July 12, 2020

Dear Fellow Staff:

Looking back, it is hard to believe, but we have now finished the 17th week of our country’s COVID-19 pandemic. We have worked and lived under this cloud for almost one-third of a year, and we continue to shine! Of our 450 employees, we have NO active cases of individuals or staff. We currently have two employees being tested and are awaiting results, and no individuals in any of our programs have tested positive. Simply remarkable, and we can credit NCIA’s “Safety -In-All-Settings” campaign for its continued guidance.

As I announced last week, we have re-opened our Administrative offices on a limited, controlled basis. This past week was a “test” case and I am pleased to say all employees followed our procedures, wearing masks, following social distancing procedures and washing hands frequently. Our Human Resources department has been fantastic in developing schedules, protocol, and checklists for entry on a daily basis.

Nonetheless, we cannot relax. Although we have been fortunate in Maryland, we need to be extra diligent moving forward. As evident in other states, COVID-19 is coming back in jurisdictions that have re-opened,  but the dynamics have changed. Experts have seen the positivity rate shift from older adults to younger people under the age of 35 and there continues to be a disproportionate impact on our Black and Hispanic communities. So please continue to stay safe and urge your families and friends to do the same.

I continue to applaud our program and administrative staff for their incredible work under these challenging circumstances. Many agencies have still remained closed but our doors have been kept open and, amazingly, we continue to grow. Our Adult Residential Services is admitting our first individual with Developmental Disabilities that has Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes a constant hunger, overeating, and leads to obesity. It is a significant challenge, but is consistent with NCIA’s tenet of serving those most in need.

Our Vocational Training Centers achieved a new milestone this week. We have now trained over 500 students in the past three years, and we continue to have a 75% employment rate for our certified graduates. Our current cohorts in Baltimore and Charlotte have a combined 200 students in their classes, scheduled to graduate later this summer.

Our Career Development Center, while the building is still closed, continues to expand distance-learning classes to our homebound individuals. The number of service hours for our CDP staff literally doubled during the month of June and we are grateful to our CDP case managers and staff for their extraordinary efforts.

Our YIT School continues to face an ever-changing environment. We have begun our summer distance-learning curriculum (in itself a challenge) while following the various school systems decisions about the fall semester. It seems sometimes like it is the “wild west”, with the various branches of government challenging each other with their ideas and priorities! Stay tuned for updates.

Our Business Services contracts are finally back to prior levels. They also have continued to flourish, including doing extra COVID-29 cleaning services at many of their buildings that are now re-opening.

On the Administrative front, our Communications and Compliance Departments are developing a strategy to ensure all of our staff are aware of and able to use NCIA’s Compliance hot line. It is in our employee handbook, but we want everyone to know NCIA has an email and compliance phone number available if necessary.

Finally, our Fiscal Department is under a lot of pressure due to end-of-year time constraints. In addition to closing out the end of June fiscal statements, they are also finishing our end-of-year numbers and preparing for our annual audit. Please give our back office staff an extra thanks for their hard work.

I begin every week with a renewed sense of how blessed we are at NCIA to have such a dedicated, professional workforce who make our mission a reality.  On behalf of the thousands of individuals we serve every year, Thank You.

With continued gratitude,

Herb Hoelter, CEO