Dear Fellow Staff:

Week 8 of this COVID-19 pandemic is now behind us, and I would like to provide an update on NCIA, our programs, and our response to the challenges presented by this virus. All I can say is WOW! The efforts by all staff have been extraordinary, and the resilience shown by NCIA as an agency is a model of teamwork and communication.

As an organization, we are extremely fortunate to be weathering the storm. Our furloughs have been kept to a minimum enabling the majority of our staff to remain full-time employees. With the assistance of a Stimulus (PPP) loan, we have been able to provide front-line workers with an hourly increase for their work. We have been persistent in updating our policies and procedures on literally a daily basis, following the ever-changing state and federal guidelines, and I applaud our efforts in communicating them to employees. Our website and social media communication have been exemplary, and our HR department has been nonstop in addressing the challenges presented on a daily basis. Finally, our fiscal department has kept all the doors open by billing, collecting our receivables, paying our bills and making sure everyone is paid.

Moving to our programs, we had a mixed week in our Adult Residential Services. Last week I reported that we had three homes under quarantine, one individual that tested positive for COVID18 in the ICU and two individuals who had tested positive and were being supported at home. As I informed you earlier, unfortunately the individual in the ICU passed this past week. We have stayed in touch with his family and we are heartbroken.

On the positive side, I am pleased to report that in our Adult Residential program our first quarantine home has now been released by the Maryland Department of Health. The twelve staff and three residents in that house were trained, followed the procedures, and wore their full PPEs at all times. None of the staff on our HERO team from that house became symptomatic or tested positive, and neither did the two residents. What a fantastic job! It shows that if all the procedures are followed our staff and individuals can stay protected from this virus.

Currently, we have one individual who has tested positive in one of our two remaining COVID quarantine homes. We have seven staff who have been tested. Five are positive and are recovering at home, one is pending and one was negative. None were hospitalized. All 46 homes now have face shields/goggles, masks and gloves for every staff and individual. Please use them!

Our Business Services team continues to manage 15 contracts and keep our job coaches and individuals working, including the I-95 contracts that still have thousands of travelers through those rest stops. Our leadership in BSD is totally diligent in keeping our staff and individuals protected.

Our Youth in Transition School team and staff are incredible in their efforts to reach out to our students, despite facing significant barriers. As I previously informed you, we provided tablets to every student for remote instruction, learning packets are delivered weekly and academic coaches are attempting to call students on a daily basis. It is a real challenge as approximately 50% of our students live in group homes and many others live in homes where there is no internet access. We should be proud of the academic and social work efforts of the school staff.

In what may be hard to believe, but in the true entrepreneurship spirit of NCIA, we actually are developing two new initiatives during this crisis. In concert with the YIT leadership team, with support from our VTC staff, our Career Development Center has now developed a distance-learning curriculum which we are rolling out to the 65 individuals in our day program who are not in our residential program. This will allow those individuals to stay occupied during this trying period. Congratulations to a great teamwork effort by those leadership teams.

Finally, despite the barriers faced by our HJH Vocational Training Centers in both Charlotte and Baltimore, they have maintained over 80% participation in their remote learning classes. The Baltimore VTC recently graduated over 50 students, and we have been developing employment opportunities when they are allowed to go into the community. The Charlotte VTC on-line classes are near completion and, with the ability to get the hands-on experiences, will graduate 40 students, hopefully in the near future. Additionally, we are in negotiation with two new jurisdictions to expand our program in the fall.

The resilience and commitment of all of NCIA is to be congratulated as we continue to work under this cloud. It will eventually lift, and when it does, we can look back on this period and take great pride in the incredible work we are doing on behalf of those who need us the most. Keep it up!

With continued gratitude,

Herb Hoelter

Chief Executive Officer