People are surprised to learn about the amount of bureaucracy and regulations nonprofits have to contend with when given the privilege of providing care for others. This bureaucracy and regulation falls on us from many governmental entities, at the city, county and state levels.
Target Community & Educational Services provides residential, vocational, and personal support to children and adults with developmental disabilities. We provide these services and more, and each of these programs has its own set of regulations that must be followed, documented and monitored.
We are required to secure our documentation on file and make them available for inspectors for many years. While serving hundreds of clients, the storage of records over multiple years becomes a challenge in itself, especially as state inspectors like to look at paper records.
The State of Maryland approves, licenses, and monitors our agency through the Developmental Disabilities Administration and the Office of Health Care Quality. Our funding depends on maintaining these licenses and following volumes of rules and regulations in how we carry out our responsibilities.
The state controls our funding rates, and with that funding comes many expectations and mandates. Almost everything, from our staffing levels to the temperature of our water in our residential programs, are regulated to protect the citizens we serve. A surprise visit to one of our homes by state inspectors at 7 a.m. is the norm.
The state also mandates a dozen training requirements for all employees who work with our clients. This training must be completed within the first 90 days of hire. Many require annual recertification.
The 90-day requirement is a challenge, as many of our employees work other jobs, including full-time jobs. Taking off work from another job to complete a required four-day state training on medication administration, for example, is a significant challenge for some of our employees. It is important, however, that our employees are well trained, especially when it comes to first aid, CPR and other emergency procedures.
Most of these rules and regulations are a good thing, of course, because there are some agencies who are not providing appropriate care for the citizens they serve. Because of these poor-performing agencies, all the agencies in the state must be strictly regulated, monitored and supervised. If something happens to a client in one agency, all the agencies pay the price with increased monitoring and oversight.
A good example of this is when the state had received notification of several cases of clients choking in one year. As a result, today, all staff at state-licensed agencies receive choking training. Hopefully, this and other required training saves lives and improves the quality of care for the vulnerable populations we serve.
When I talk with our employees at Target Community & Educational Services, I tell them that we have two primary responsibilities: keeping our clients safe and improving their quality of life. If we focus on these two things, the safety and quality of life of those we serve, everything else will fall in line.
Tom Zirpoli is president and CEO of Target Community & Educational Services Inc. He also writes a regular op-ed column for the Times.
Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”