A Q&A with Aaron Borchert, Director, Marketing and Communications, InVision Human Services
Founded in 1992, InVision Human Services builds person driven services for people with disabilities. They accomplish their mission by helping people create a level of independence they never thought possible. Founder and President/CEO Ruth Siegfried recognized that people whose disabilities and circumstances made it nearly impossible for them to be served by traditional approaches and methods deserved the opportunity to identify and live their vision of a meaningful life. InVision serves people who have complex diagnoses that others often deem too complex to support, including multiple intellectual and developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, cognitive and psychiatric disorders, as well as neurological, physical, and environmental disabilities.
Kocan. Please give us a little background in InVision Human Services.
Borchert. InVision was founded on a single truth: Every person has a voice. Our customized support is based on an understanding of the importance and power of mutual relationships. We honor the strengths, hopes, and dreams of each person we support, and their unique needs drive everything we do.
A home of their own in a supportive community and the freedom to make decisions on where and how they want to live are things people without disabilities often take for granted. In the past, people with disabilities struggled to flourish in more restrictive environments where they had little autonomy or decision-making ability in everyday situations. Irritability, instability, and insecurity followed because their feelings were disregarded without any concern for their preferences or well-being. In addition, large institutional settings removed them from communities making it difficult to participate in or interact with the world around them.
InVision believes individuals with disabilities deserve an independent life, which to us has always meant an independent living situation. The people we support live in their own homes, in their own communities, accomplishing goals they set for themselves.
Kocan. That’s a wonderful mission and one you surely can be proud of serving. Clearly, as a human services and support organization, your people are an essential asset. What efforts do you take to attract, retain, and grow your people? Have you changed your approach due to the pandemic?
Borchert. Recruiting and retaining Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), the staff that works directly to provide services to people with disabilities, are critical to our success, as well as the success of the people we serve. This has long been a challenge for intellectual disability and autism (ID/A) providers for a number of reasons, most notably that the state of Pennsylvania sets the rates for DSP wages. On average, a DSP makes $13.38 per hour. The pandemic added to the challenges we face with more and more businesses relying on hourly employees offering higher wages and, in some cases, starting bonuses. To remain competitive in this new environment, InVision provided a temporary increase of $2 per hour for all DSPs at the beginning of the pandemic. That transitioned to a $150 bonus per pay for full-time DSPs and $75 per pay for part-time.
Kocan. I understand that InVision relies heavily on the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Office of Developmental Programs to set rates for your services. What efforts does the organization take to stay apprised of and impact the political landscape?
Borchert. We have an office in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania state capitol, and a vice president of government relations and advocacy who works with the governor’s office and the state’s General Assembly to bring attention to issues that ID/A providers face, especially the rates for our services which include DSP wages. We also are active with state and national advocacy organizations such as Pennsylvania Advocacy Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR) and American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) to further our lobbying and advocacy efforts on behalf of people with disabilities as well as Direct Support Professionals.
Kocan. Due to pandemic-related funding, you are now subject to additional compliance requirements, including a Uniform Guidance Single Audit. What additional processes have you implemented to prepare for this? Has your response been limited to operations and the executive level, or have you involved your board as well?
Borchert . Our Vice President of Finance, Shawn Ryan, maintains an active CPA license. As such, he utilizes all available resources such as the AICPA, PICPA, provider organizations such as PAR and The Provider Alliance (TPA), as well as webinars from HBK. He has maintained an open line of communication with our HBK team on this ever and rapidly changing funding and compliance environment. Shawn’s role has also been to update our officers and board on a regular basis regarding these matters.
Kocan. HBK has proudly worked alongside InVision since 2017, providing audit and tax services, education opportunities to your team, and periodic consulting on matters such as pandemic-related funding compliance, compensation plans, and financing matters. How does InVision perceive the role and importance of a CPA partner?
Borchert . We expect our CPA partner to be competent, professional, and responsive and to continue to look for ways to add value. HBK continues to play an important role as a trusted advisor.