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Podcast – John Barth: INARF Promotes Quality Human Service Programs for People with Disabilities

Thursday, May 12, 2022
Natalie Terchek
Podcast – John Barth: INARF Promotes Quality Human Service Programs for People with Disabilities

This week, at The One Thing Podcast, by The Horton Group, our host Jason Helfert, talks to our guest, John Barth, President and CEO of the Indiana Association of Rehabilitation Facilities (INARF).

INARF is the principal membership organization in Indiana, representing providers of services to people with disabilities. Our members serve over 50,000 Indiana citizens annually and employ nearly 15,000 workers. For over 45 years, INARF has maintained positive work relationships with governmental agencies responsible for human service programs, promoted networking and professional development opportunities for members, and provided leadership and support in the promotion of quality programs for persons with disabilities. INARF is committed to strengthening the system of services and supports for Hoosiers with disabilities.

John has been working in and around the Indiana Medicaid program for over 20 years – and he served as CEO of a for-profit healthcare program for 12 of those years. He ultimately made the choice to transition to the nonprofit sector because there were more opportunities to directly serve and impact individuals who need the most help.

Nonprofit employees are some of the most mission-driven, dedicated people you’ll ever come across. Their work is rewarding and meaningful – however, this industry comes with a lot of pressure. Oftentimes, employees face higher expectations because the outcome of their work benefits people who need it the most.

“We’re often hitting the ball as far as we possibly can because our membership needs us to,” John says. “Their expectations for us are very high, and it’s because the people we serve have intellectual and developmental disabilities, and they really need us. They need us to hit the ball out of the park every time to make sure they have the proper resources and support to be successful. Failing is not an option – our members depend on us.”

Listen to our podcast above for the full interview with John Barth and learn more about the challenges nonprofits are facing, and how INARF is working to overcome these obstacles.


Hello and welcome to The One Thing Podcast brought to you by The Horton Group, where the Horton Group, we specialize in Insurance employee benefits and risk advisory. And I’m your host, Jason hell for we are excited today to have as a guest president and CEO of INARF, John Barth. How are you? John? I’m doing great. Jason. Thanks for having me on. Well, good good time. I was at a, an all-day training and development session, yesterday. And I think we’ve all been through some of those where they go. Okay, but they last a long time, and this one went pretty well and I’ll share with you why? John we had a guest. That’s a Front of our agency but good friend of myself, Michael lasso. And Michael is a Communications coach. And what Michael does is helps us as Leaders. It could be nonprofit, for-profit, and parents brothers, sisters were maybe learn to communicate better with each other because we all know, if you can’t communicate with people, you’re gonna have a hard time doing anything probably really well in this world personally or professionally and we were going around the room and we were sharing with Michael goals and expectations. We have on a personal or professional professional level and people kept saying, you know, I just want to hit this Revenue number or I just want to do this or I just want to do this and he stopped the group and he said Team, why do we keep saying just like why just what I get it, you want to just reach more people or just, you know, hire more employees or be just a better employer of choice. But what would the self-limiting belief? He said what we should do is eliminate just from our vocabulary when it comes to our own personal, professional development. And on the way home John, I had time to reflect on that and it made me think of the nonprofit community and it made me think of agencies like in are for example, because I don’t know any high-performing agencies. Really said I have been listening to that use just very often what they do is tend to shed our expectations, you know, like you don’t want to just be a good Agency for your members, you don’t want to just be good for, you know, what your constituents which is important. What I was started. Interesting, the not prophesying to do a much better job of shattering, expectations from my experience. And so, John for the people that may be listening to you that aren’t familiar with an RF. Maybe they’re from Wisconsin, or Iowa or Michigan, or Illinois. They don’t know you as mud. How did you and your agency? Get to where you are today? Because my guess is you didn’t do it by just saying just all the time. I think that’s a really great way of phrasing it. And I think that people do put qualifiers in their language a lot about achieving something, whether it’s just or some other component of a phrase that minimizes what they’re trying to do. When in fact, they’re trying to do something pretty dramatic and you gave a few examples there and
Getting sales targets or whatever it may be but for us we’re often hitting
the ball as far as we possibly can because our membership needs us to like their expectations of us are very high and it’s because the people we serve, people are member serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have high knees. And so the members that we serve need us. To hit the ball out of the park, every time to make sure they have the resources. They need to be successful. And a great example of that is in the 21 session of the Indiana General Assembly. We were able to get a 14% increase in the rates, paid for certain services and the intent there to get that money to our members wasn’t for margin. It wasn’t for anything other than to pass those dollars through and pay for. Or the direct service providers that are members employed to serve people with disabilities and
we couldn’t fail minutes and because of the greater area of the employment Market among other things, we had to have those resources to ensure the services and support for being delivered. So, I think your point is right. The nonprofit sector
nonprofit. Doesn’t mean lower expectations. Nonprofit means your mission oriented. And so, if anything. There’s higher expectations because the outcome of your work is benefiting people who most need it. Mmm. No, I completely agree. And and John, how did you rise to president and CEO of the agency itself?
Well, I’ve been working in and around the Indiana Medicaid Program for well over 20 years now.
Spend time working directly for the agency for the office of Medicaid policy. And planning running the Managed Care Division and starting the big programs that now serve the majority of eligible for Medicaid in Indiana. It’s been time working for a large for-profit, Medicaid Health Plan called centene
for 12 years being CEO there. And eventually got to the point where I really wanted to Spend more time, almost Enlightenment with your question earlier in the nonprofit sector because that’s where I it seems to me, there’s the opportunity to more directly and impactful to serve people who most need not the benefits of low income, health care, and publicly supported health care, which is a mission for me in life. And so having the opportunity to do that was what I was seeking, especially in the nonprofit realm and things just aligned perfectly. To have the opportunity to come here and take my past experience and apply it in our well, good. Well, that’s we are glad to have your leadership. And so where’s the community at large? And you mentioned that one of the things that in our perp has been like is charged with either by your membership where your own personal ambition was to, you know, work on the rate structure, the rate reimbursements and you mentioned 14% which is, which is phenomenal. What are some of the other projects right now that in our is working on that you want people to know about? So there’s a there’s a number of things. The we’re in a very unique time in that the American Rescue plan act. Apra has put opportunities on the table that are transformative and historic in nature opportunities to invest in the industry and in services and supports to people with disabilities that we have dreamt of a never had the resources to do. So We has been spending a lot of time, working closely with Indiana Regulators to propose ideas for how to best spend those dollars. And there’s two sides to that coin. The first is just direct relief because the impact of the pandemic has been significant on our members, as you can imagine, and what they need to do day in and day out, plus the height of the lockdown, the need for them to invest in technology. In PVE among other things. So that happened. We’re happy with that additional support for our industry, informed of direct Grant process that the state did in consultation with us, but now we’re moving into another phase and that phase is really. How do you use these a Pro Resources to advance the industry and really think about opportunities to best serve individuals with disabilities and their families. And so So what we’ve been working with Regulators on more recently has to do, there’s two components one especially is employment of people with disabilities and what Innovation opportunities are there, but also in one of the biggest issues that we face as an industry is attracting and retaining those direct service providers. I mentioned earlier a dsps and how can our industry be more thoughtful? Creative forward-thinking.
Way that really makes a career path in a environment in an industry that those potential employees would want to commit to for the long term. Okay, well transformative and historic earn very light words. And so I think the right I think that’s the but I love. I love hearing that because it’s something that you believe and you believe in its purpose and its Mission and its ability to reach individuals on a personal level and I love that in. You mentioned Innovation. And so Henry, Ford once said, if the general, if I ask the general public what they want, they would say, I want a faster horse, right? And so that would have been true Innovation. And so when he is saying of innovation, is this Innovation mentioned, some of the Public’s, this more on the social Enterprise angle, or what type of innovation, John are you referring to here? So, let’s, let’s think about it, in two, in two ways. The
And using those two examples that I decided one is employment of people with disabilities and the second is attracting and retaining
employees for the industry to be able to deliver those Services. Right? So on the employment of people with disabilities, the state in conjunction with us, has been thinking hard about. All right, what does the future look like? Because this situation where we are? Are currently where we have people with disabilities. Who are an untapped resource to be more involved in the employment market. Right folks, who have historically been marginalized and have had a very high unemployment rate upwards of 70% and even higher, I’ve seen them. But now we have a situation where employers are screaming for opportunity to hire people in to retain them. So part of what is coming up. With these ever dollars, is the state of Indiana, putting forward, grant program oriented around, with their calling, Innovation, grants. And those Innovation grants are intended the way. I’m describing. It is anything you’ve ever as an agency serving people with disabilities. You’ve probably had great ideas for years, but you’ve never had the resources to do them. Now is the time when the state is going to put out these grant opportunities via the Opera a lot meant to to take the time and really invest in those things. So there’s all kinds of ways that members of our association or thinking about going, but let me give you an example. There’s a member of ours called opportunity Enterprises up in the north western part of Indiana in the CEO. There happens to have come to being the CEO of what we call OE opportunity Enterprises by via the scrap, metal recycling industry, right? So completely left turn. But that also gives him insight and perspective that is not widely available in our industry. And so what he has done is started to really think hard about. Okay, what are the opportunities to blend these two worlds? And so he has been talking to his former colleagues and saying there’s a, you have a high need for employees. I have people who want to work, but who have been denied denied that opportunity. Let’s rethink what the job is. That you have and how it’s done. So we can apply the
high level of interest of the folks. He serves with disabilities to alleviate your staffing needs and do some positive work by ensuring that people with disabilities have access to jobs. They’ve never had access to before, right? And so in fact, he is presenting this concept all around the country at scrap industry Association.
Conferences. So that’s what I mean. What, what left turn opportunity or what unexpected opportunity? What thing has our agencies wanted to do, but didn’t have the resources. So that’s already happening based on his existing relationships. But now, the state will be putting out grant opportunities to really just pursue those ideas left and right. So another quick example is, this is something that’s been tried before, but not so much in, Indiana. one of our members are considering seeking a grand to How can you have a ongoing training opportunity for people with disabilities and meet a community need in the community where they are, where there’s no cafes. There’s no place. There’s no Community, third space. There’s no opportunity for people to come together and meet because for a variety of reasons. And so they want to launch a cafe that would a be a training site for folks that they serve but also meet the needs of the community. So there’s lots of opportunities out there. And so we’re looking forward to Saying, now that this money will be available. Does that unlock unique? Creative thoughts? That haven’t had the opportunity to flourish in the past? Yeah. Now, if the other component is employment of dsps an hour for our agencies, they need to employ direct service providers dsps to be able to do this work, right? You can’t execute on these Vision unless you have the employees. And so There, there’s some because of the cratering of the employment Market. We at NRF, had the opportunity to work with something called cicp, which is the Central Indiana corporate partnership, which is a coming together of all the Central Indiana, large employers, like the lilies and Cummins of the world, but they fund a entity within Central Indiana, corporate partnership, or cicp to work to alleviate their own staff. Problems, but they’re also worried about what happens to a large group of people who graduate high school, but because of the
cratering of the employment Market, they’ve never gotten tuned into an industry or the industry. They historically, maybe their family always work for Chrysler. That Chrysler is gone. How do you tune them in and get them connected to an industry? And they are working with us to say, okay. There’s a large degree of Central Indiana, high school graduates, who have never Tuned into an industry. We think what you offer our industry the industry of people serving people with disabilities can be a match because a we serve we can provide a mission in a clear
opportunity for folks who want to do that kind of work and be if they work with us and create a
career path that we can sell to these employees. We can retain them for long time term. And in this churning, that’s happening out there in the employment. I get so we’re in the middle really just kicking off, working with Central, Indiana corporate partnership on that now, but that’s the other side of the coin, right? You can’t do the Innovation unless you have the employees. And so from an in our perspective. We’re trying to work at this higher level to
Think Through. What can we do to make this pipeline of employees, more consistent and more tuned into sticking with our members or the long-term the event. That’s a That’s fascinating. I think in a way you’re almost changing or recreating, or putting a Twist on the role of a DS, be Right, I think about it. And so to your point about taking, that’s so much, a left her, maybe a pivot writing in the traditional sense. We think of dsps, maybe in a home on a Scylla or, you know, that’s traditional. I think here if you’re working with Lily or a steel Enterprise, as you mention those two examples, oe4 won the role. The DSP is going to have to change a little bit. It’s really trying to.
Match what the benefit of having the opportunity to work with the Central Indiana, corporate partnership and their their, their section that does this called Ascend is that they have done. All this work on. What is a labor market look like? What does a high-school graduation? Look like how many people have graduated with a waiver rather than a degree? And then to say, we think in our that is your target audience, to wear these entry-level positions, but having a target audience isn’t good enough because you can attract them, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to stay. So what do you want to offer to them and to our industry as a long-term strategy to make them feel committed to the industry. So two pieces one Mission orientation into career path. So to your point it is the traditional job in many. Ways. But also if you can articulate a clear, if you are here this long, you have this opportunity to advance. If you are here this longing, gain these skills potentially you could get paid more. So you’re giving someone to Vision that they can have a career and then a reason to stick with a certain agency or certain industry and that’s what we’re trying to figure out. And so this time as I mentioned earlier of Incredible challenge matched by the opportunity that these apra dollars have provided to us has given us a lot to think through and a lot to do. It’s an it’s an exciting time. But also a time of a lot, a lot of challenge. A lot of careful thinking. Yeah. No, I agree. And I but I love this. I love this Spirit of it. I love the intent of it. I could see why it would be. They can be heavy. Huge impact for all the right reasons as you you outline. So gratefully and you mentioned that the Innovation grants and I If I’m wrong, it’s not that you’re referring them to in a future tense that I got your text. Okay. Yeah, we anticipate
that being really released probably in early May. So that’s at this point. We have advised the state and we’re hoping these look the way I describe them, but I think they largely well based on informal input of them. Okay, and you’re being such a feeling, you feel that most providers in the state of Indiana are aware of them, the opportunity for them. In our members, are we have,
there’s a bitch, anyone listening in Indiana who is not an inert member. We have a we have a shared this with our membership broadly and more closely with the state on it, but they haven’t released it in the in the broadest possible sense. But within the association we certainly have communicated. Okay, and so I think it’s a good question. I brought it up and and so for those into so those agencies out there or Providers and other services to the community at large. How does somebody get in touch with in our if they wanted to become a member? Yeah, we are constantly working hard on behalf of this industry and pushing out a lot of information and working carefully with the state on the priorities of our members. And the best way to connect with us to learn more about that is through emailing me, which is just simply John at in our F dot org.
Easy enough is enough. Yeah, before we before we sign officer, we’ve covered a couple really In powerful and important things. And I’m glad you’re able to share some insight on there. Anything else you want people to learn or know about in our if that is appropriate timely what’s in the future. And so even if you had if there’s nothing additional there, but maybe you are. I love the lens of perspective of high-performing CEOs and nonprofit space. They generally see things differently baby before others. And so if you’re a prognosticator or you know, Future Vision guy, what do you what do you Seeing out there. I think the opportunity as I mentioned, this sort of
Unprecedented investment in our industry and in people with disabilities from the state via the apra dollars is so unique and it’s such a rare opportunity. That one of the things we’re trying to do. The best job we can of is taking a partnership orientation towards in Indiana. We have a great in long-term partnership with The Arc of Indiana. And also we have a long history. Three of working closely with the state to work together to come to the best conclusion of what would be benefiting, the industry and supporting the industry to provide services and supports. And so I think having these Partnerships in a lining around achieving these goals and Employments. The example we’ve been using today but there’s so many silos and government supported health care. That this moment in time is giving us this unique opportunity. Eternity to really have everybody pulling from the same end of the Rope. So from a regulatory perspective from family, advocacy perfective from a provider advocacy perspective. Everyone being on the same page with the overall goal of employment and thinking about employment in new and different ways is really unique and those Partnerships are really being strengthened and I’m hopeful that through these Innovation grants that basis will really help us do Some pretty neat things going forward. Okay. Well, it certainly sounds like there’s a good plan in place and I think the state of Indiana can be confident with leaders like you at the helm and we got a pretty good chance of making some some really good things happen. So John I wanted to say thank you for sharing your time with us this morning. I know it’s important. Thank you for sharing your Insight and advice to the community at large, appreciate your leadership. And so on behalf of The Horton Group of Jason Helfert saying, thank you everybody for tuning in to The One Thing Podcast.

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