Volume 1 Issue 2

The Director's Corner

Winter may cover the ASPIRE states, but there’s nothing cold and dreary in ASPIRE! Four states, Colorado, South Dakota, North Dakota and Utah, continue to enroll youth. Arizona will begin this month and Montana in March! The ASPIRE staff are working with youth and families, exploring available services and preparing for the first focus groups. Everyone is busy fulfilling the purpose of ASPIRE - to positively change the future by learning what empowers youth with disabilities and families to become more independent and self-sufficient.

In this February newsletter learn what’s happening in each state. Find out how the formative evaluation team keeps ASPIRE on track. Check out the enrollments numbers. ASPIRE is well on its way of enrolling 2000 youth by April of 2016!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director
crudell@utah.gov

February 15,2015

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

StateUpdates:

Arizona
Colorado
Montana
North Dakota
South Dakota
Utah

Meet ASPIRE
Staff Highlight - Mary Livermont
Staff Highlight - Robin Bauknecht

ASPIRE Website

"ASPIRE is Rolling Down the Tracks:
The Role of Evaluation"

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

Arizona
ASPIRE Project Leadership team from Utah recently visited Arizona to finalize ASPIRE Arizona staff trainings to begin recruitment and enrollment efforts. The first set of recruitment letters will be mailed out in the middle of February 2015. During the most recent ASPIRE Arizona State Advisory Council, the exciting news to begin recruitment and enrollment was shared, and partnering agencies will be spreading the word to their colleagues and clients. ASPIRE Arizona team will continue ASPIRE promotion with various partner agencies, schools, and conferences throughout the state of Arizona during recruitment and enrollment period If you have any questions or need assistance with enrollment, call ASPIRE Arizona toll free number at (844) 260-2890. We look forward to helping ASPIRE Arizona youth and families enroll!

Colorado
The ASPIRE Colorado staff is diligently working on the third wave of our recruitment and enrollment plan. To date, recruitment and enrollment has taken place in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Fort Collins and the Denver Metro Area. Colorado will begin working on our forth wave the beginning of March.

Colorado Case Managers are currently working with the youth and families in the ASPIRE services group to develop ASPIRE services plans that include Independent Living Skills, Education, Employment.

Colorado is contracting for Self-Determination, Financial Literacy and Training, Benefits Counseling and Parent Education Training. The contracts are available for solicitation on the Colorado Vendor Self Service website.

Colorado is preparing to host our second State Advisory Committee Meeting scheduled on March 19, 2015.

Montana
The ASPIRE Montana staff members are gearing up to start enrollment in March. They are continuing to work on getting their Billings office set up and staffed with a case manager to cover the Eastern region. Montana is also working on getting their contracts in place for some of the interventions. In addition, the team continues to meet and speak with various partner agencies, visiting schools, vocational rehabilitation offices, workforce offices, presenting at conferences and other local offices to spread the word about ASPIRE and learn more about the services available to the targeted youth and families. A total of 7 waves of letters will be sent out across Montana over the next year to targeted youth and their families. The first wave of letters will be sent out in west-central Montana, covering Lewis & Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater counties. Those interested in learning more may contact ASPIRE Montana at (844) 442-3167 toll free.

North Dakota
Since letters were mailed out in December and January, ASPIRE North Dakota staff continue to contact eligible families from the Minot and Bismarck regions. Staff are making phone calls, sending out note cards and scheduling meetings with families. Currently 13 youth are enrolled in North Dakota. North Dakota will be enrolling 50 teens into the ASPIRE project. Our third wave of letters will be mailed out soon. We will be sending letters to newly eligible youth and families in the Minot and Bismarck areas. We also continue to promote ASPIRE to regional schools and agencies meeting with staff and dropping off brochures. If any agency is interested in learning more about ASPIRE or would like brochures to display, please contact us. Recently ASPIRE articles have been popping up in local newspapers. This is exciting as we continue to recruit youth from other areas of the state. Youth ages 14-16 who receive SSI are eligible. As always, please contact us for more information about ASPIRE, our staff may be reached at 800-233-1737.

South Dakota
ASPIRE South Dakota currently has 60 youth enrolled. Recruitment and enrollment has moved from Rapid City and Sioux Falls to communities in Northeast and Central South Dakota which includes two reservation areas. ASPIRE staff continue to promote ASPIRE to partners across the state by hosting informational meetings. The case managers have been busy meeting with youth and families in the ASPIRE Services group. On February 18-19, South Dakota will be the first ASPIRE state to have an Evaluation Site Visit with two evaluators from the Formative Evaluation Team. A meeting of the ASPIRE Advisory Board will be held February 26. The group includes representation from state level partner agencies and others who provide essential intervention services and support.

Utah
Utah is moving forward with enrolling youth. 86 of Utah youth are enrolled – that’s 34% of the target of 250 youth. The staff have made many community connections as they meet with families at the schools, libraries, state offices and community centers. The families like meeting at places they already go to near their homes. The ASPIRE Utah team has been learning more about the workings of Utah schools including the practices of special education and vocational rehabilitation. They are working with the ASPIRE youth to develop goals and to explore services and supports. Utah has a new Site Coordinator, Douglas Allred. He brings great experience with youth, disabilities and research studies. Welcome, Doug!

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

As of February 15, 2015, ASPIRE has enrolled 312 youth and their families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona .......................Ready to Enroll
Colorado........................................153
Montana.......................Awaiting Start
North Dakota ...................................13
South Dakota ...................................60
Utah...................................................86

Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!

Do you connect with youth and their families through a newsletter, or know of an agency that does? Let us know if you would like information about ASPIRE or PROMISE to include in your newsletter. We will gladly provide you with a brief article and additional information. Simply email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9712.
ASPIRE Website - www.aspirewest.org
The ASPIRE website is a great place to find resources for youth and their families in your area, as well as contact information for all six of the ASPIRE states, and information about ASPIRE and the PROMISE Initiative. If you received this newsletter from a friend or colleafue and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

ASPIRE is Rolling Down the Tracks: The Role of Evaluation

ASPIRE TrainFormative evaluation is the process of making sure the ASPIRE project is “on the right track.” Think of ASPIRE as a train with many train cars preparing to take a long trip. There are many supplies that need to be loaded and people brought on board before the train is ready to “leave the station.” There are lots of moving parts in ASPIRE. The success of the trip (project) depends on many different people doing their jobs, and coordinating their work with the rest of the team. The formative evaluation team checks all the moving parts, makes sure the instruments and scales are set up to work properly. Before the trip begins, the formative evaluation team advises the rest of the crew in preparations. As the train (project) begins rolling (enrolling and providing services) the role of the formative evaluation team is to observe how people and mechanisms (staff and procedures) are working together. The team makes reports to the train engineers and conductors (project manager and site coordinators) about potential setbacks, as well as where the going is smooth. The purpose of the formative evaluation is to alert engineers and conductors about the need for additional training, instruction, or guidance to ensure a successful trip, not to point out individual mistakes or failings on the part of the crew. The intent is for everyone to make it to the desired destination where there are more opportunities, jobs, and independence for youth and families on SSI.

ASPIRE Partners

ASPIRE is excited to partner with the following agencies:

Staff Highlight - Mary Livermont

Mary Livermont

Mary Livermont is the Site Coordinator for ASPIRE South Dakota. She has worked for Black Hills Special Services Cooperative(BHSSC) in Pierre, SD for the last 7 years. During the first few years with the Co-op, she was a Program Planning Specialist with the Medicaid Infrastructure Grant (MIG). After the MIG grant ended, she worked as a Transition Liaison with the Transition Services Liaison Project until January, 2014 when she took the position of the South Dakota ASPIRE Site Coordinator. Prior to her work with BHSSC, she worked for Child Protection Services with the South Dakota Department of Social Services for approximately 21 years as a Social Worker, Supervisor and for the last 9 years as a Program Specialist at State Office.

"I have been married for 35 years. Jay and I have three adult children and four grandchildren, ages 3, 2 ½ 10 months and 6 months. We enjoy anytime we can spend with our kids and grandkids. Holidays and birthdays are very special for us. I love to take pictures and scrapbook family memories. I also enjoy counted cross stitch, making greeting cards and any paper crafts. I love fall and taking long hikes in the Black Hills when I get the chance."

"I am excited and honored to be part of the ASPIRE Project and Team. I look forward to the next few years of the project and the impact that ASPIRE Services will have on youth and their families."

Mary Livermont
Site Coordinator - South Dakota
mlivermont@tie.net

If you would like to be included in our next newsletter, email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9172.

Staff Highlight - Robin Bauknecht

Robin Bauknecht

Robin Bauknecht graduated with her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Northern Colorado. She began working for the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in January 2002. Prior to ASPIRE CO Site Coordinator, Robin held the position of Rehabilitation Counselor I and II with an emphasis on assisting youth and young adults who have disabilities reaching their post secondary goals of either employment or education.

Robin also held the position of Statewide School to Work Alliance Program Coordinator, providing technical assistance and training to DVR, Education and agency partners that serve youth and young adults with disabilities.

Robin enjoys spending time with family and friends in the Colorado Mountains, listening to music at Red Rocks Amphitheater and enjoying the city life of Denver.

Robin Bauknecht
Site Coordinator - ASPIRE Colorado
robin.bauknecht@state.co.us