The agency determined the three most impactful Strategic priorities and goals for the 2020-2025 plan are the following: 

Priority 1 – Recruitment and Retention
Objectives under recruitment and retention include the following:

  • Dissecting the current pay scales and benefits packages to determine if we are competitive within the county and state fair market value compared to like agencies.
  • Improve the new hire and ongoing training process by creating a program-specific curriculum. 
  • Hire STRTP direct care staff on an ongoing basis.  The turnover rate in 2017/2018 was 40.8% and in 2018/2019 was 34%. While the turnover has decreased over the past two years, it is still higher than the desired target of 25%.  Direct care staff in our STRTP is very high for the following reasons:  The STRTP is a “stepping-stone” position that quickly becomes a notation on the resume before the employee moves on to their chosen career path or for a position with higher pay or a set schedule.  This struggle has caused difficulty with ensuring the appropriate number of staff needed to keep all facilities open are available. 
  • Improve team morale by implementing more cost-effective forms of staff appreciation throughout the year for employee retention.  This will include but is not limited to raffles, bonuses, and small tokens of appreciation. Implement a robust plan to advertise/demonstrate why this is a great place to work and publicize the company’s successes. 

Priority 2 – Operational Efficiency
The covid-19 pandemic has changed how we provide services to our clients, train staff, and complete audits with our regulatory bodies.  The following objectives have been identified in order to become more Operationally Efficient:

  • Improve the infrastructure of the Short Term Residential Therapeutic Program by selling select residential homes in local communities and consider buying a facility that is more spacious for operational efficiency.  
  • Creative Alternatives will identify the minimum and a maximum number of employees needed for each facility to ensure operational efficiency, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.  This will be evaluated continuously during Covid-19 and beyond.  
  • The FFA program will create and develop advertising for social media recruitment of resource parents in lieu of in-person recruitment.
  • Greater focus will be placed on building the skills of the agency’s workforce.  Development of skills and time supervising new employees is a tremendous barrier and has been throughout the years but has been heightened by the pandemic.  
  • Identify, purchase and implement a new database for employees for ease of operations.  
  • Re-evaluate the need of current personnel at each program based on new workforce discovery to remain operationally efficient and make adjustments as necessary.  Consider the required positions needed based on regulatory standards vs the additional positions due to operational efficiency.  
  • Explore contracting with online training sites in order to have more convenient and relevant training accessible to the staff and rely less on in-person training.
  • Explore more efficient and effective ways for distributing funds to STRTP facility management such as a reloadable debit card in lieu of paper checks.  This will prevent delays in cashing checks, and issues with coin shortages and provide the ability for the agency to have resources at the facility level for clients to use in real-time.  
  • Explore direct deposit options for resource parent payments.
  • Create in our current or new database system a process that will make both a purchase request and a check request format that sends notices to the correct supervisor for real-time review and approval via entry of the supervisor password and then delivers the request to the appropriate accounting department personnel for completion. 

Priority 3 – Financial Stability
The goal is to increase our financial investment portfolio and cash invested and available in our bank accounts. Achieving the goals set forward in Priority 1 and Priority 2 is essential in successfully meeting the goals outlined in this priority.  The following objectives have been identified:

  • Increase census in each program.  This will increase the total amount of revenue.
  • Creative Alternatives will continue to scale and integrate its programs and services, toward increasing its operating budget into positive.  
  • Continue to monitor the revenue vs expenses each month.
  • Mental Health staff will be held more accountable for meeting their documentation standards with billing. 
  • An increase in rates with Merced County was requested and approved.
  • Evaluate the programs that have been consistently operating in the negative and assess the need to continue operations.  In 2020, leadership recommended, and the Board of Directors approved the closure of our Grace Bishop school site due to financial instability of the Nonpublic School program saving approximately $125,000.  
  • Explore new cost savings on products for students and clients. The current cost for client and student computers approximately $1200 and repair is approximately $500.

The Time is Now!

Creative Alternative’s described strategic plan will stretch the organization more than ever before in its 44-year history.  The board and staff will be guided by the mission- “To deliver comprehensive therapeutic services in a nurturing environment to youth and young adults.”  This plan defines the path by which Creative Alternatives will progress toward its vision of ensuring all children experience love and be afforded the right to emotional growth and stability.  The agency will continue to collaborate with our community, stakeholders and families to ensure our youth are empowered with quality values, judgement, and respect in order to produce productive adults.