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DODD Director visits every county board in Ohio, bringing feedback to policy discussions   

Coming off her 88th county board visit, Kim Hauck, Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), recently reflected on her experiences across the state.

“When I was appointed to be the Director of this agency, I made it a priority to hear directly from people on the frontlines about how we can address the challenges facing our field,” Director Hauck said.  “The feedback is incredibly valuable for our policy initiatives and state investments.” 

Director Hauck listened to topics such as workforce concerns, the importance of technology, and how to better serve Ohio’s youth as she visited all of Ohio’s 88 county boards of developmental disabilities during the past year.  

Staff members at county boards who spoke to Director Hauck most frequently discussed workforce shortages in the field – shortages that were exacerbated by the pandemic. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine used his first budget to introduce the largest increase in developmental disabilities provider rates in Ohio's history, which leveraged a first-of-its-kind funding partnership between the county boards and the state. DODD formed a Workforce Crisis Task Force with a representative group of system partners that implemented strategies to provide immediate regulatory relief and support providers in recruiting and retaining direct support professionals or DSPs.  

Advancements in technology were highlighted by counties. Technology homes and stories from across the state show how technology creates greater independence and helps address the workforce crisis. County boards and providers have found unique and innovative ways to encourage independence, increase opportunities, and better the lives of people with developmental disabilities using technology. Ohio, as a Technology First state, will continue its mission to explore technology options when determining a person’s service plan, which, in turn, could reduce the strain on the developmental disabilities system’s workforce.  

In addition to technology, counties share challenges and successes in supporting Ohio’s youngest and multi-system youth. These programs ensure Ohio’s youth have the resources and support they need to succeed. The department introduced initiatives to help keep children with complex needs with their families. Regional Family Coaches work with a DODD Multidisciplinary Comprehensive Assessment Team to identify needs and strategies to assist families in keeping their children at home or in the community close to them.  

These priorities of local partners and the department will continue to present themselves through increased efforts over the next four years. 

County boards provided valuable feedback and requested many changes while meeting with the Director. Some examples of what was presented include:

  • making the DODD IT system less complex;
  • streamlining compliance reviews;
  • redesigning waivers;
  • increasing training for SSAs; and
  • addressing long-term residential needs for youth.

The DODD Leadership team will continue to discuss all of the ideas and suggestions presented like the ones listed above.

Director Hauck added, “I appreciate the superintendents across the state that helped coordinate these visits that allowed for honest discussions and highlighted community points of pride and collaboration. The opportunity to meet so many people who receive services and their families made these visits even more special and valuable.”