Mountain Home Montana’s
Strategic Plan 2016-2021
YEAR TWO UPDATE, FALL 2018
GOAL 1) Serve more of the families who need us most.
Year One Accomplishments for Serving More
In the first year of our strategic plan, we focused largely on developing our internal capacity to grow. We strengthened our operations by adding a full-time Administrative Manager, assessed our financial capacity for growth by creating an Integrated Development Plan with a clear plan for incremental growth, and generated a buzz about our plans to serve more through presentations to staff or members of more than 30 community organizations.
Year Two Accomplishments for Serving More
- We served 40% more individuals. In the second year of our strategic plan, we launched into the action phase: we served 30% more individuals in 2017 than we had in 2016. So far, in 2018, we’re on track to serve 10% more individuals than in 2017, for a total of 40% increase since we first created our goal for growth. As planned, the majority of this increase was through outpatient services such as life skills classes, counseling, and employment support, which aim to prevent families from a return to crisis or from experiencing crisis in the first place. NOTE: Unexpectedly, in year two, Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services cut reimbursement rates statewide for mental health services. In response, we had to revise our budget simply to sustain current service levels, and, once that was accomplished, we altered our plans for serving more to focus on outreach and prevention programs, described below.
- We expanded the drop-in Community Center. By extending our programs so that participants no longer need to be enrolled in the mental health center, we’ve been able to serve the broader social network involved in that mother and child’s life, such as grandparents, fathers, partners, house mates, or other extended family. From parenting classes to renter workshops to group hikes to outings to the Children’s Museum, Women’s Club, or Montana Natural History Center, the Community Center became a hub for healthy learning and social development.
- We launched a mobile resource center and thrift-store, Rattle and Roll. After converting a retro camping trailer into a dual resource center and market-on-wheels, Mountain Home took donated baby items that weren’t being used by the clients out into the broader community. Anyone with a SNAP card (food stamps), got their first $10 of baby goods free, and our trained staff also connected shoppers with other resources, from free bus schedules to public housing applications, as well as information about Mountain Home. Because Rattle and Roll is portable, we were able to park both where we might find people in need, such as Missoula Food Bank and Community Center, as well as where we might find people who simply want to shop, such as Missoula Farmers Market.
- We used the power of the internet to reach people where they’re at. The Strong Moms Ask for Help newsletter shared best-practices for parenting and mental health. The monthly articles linked more than 1,000 subscribers to information on topics ranging from self-care to handling a mental illness diagnosis, with a few celebrity parenting stories (think Serena Williams) worked into the mix.
Year Three Priorities for Serving More
- Continue to serve 150 individuals through mental health center and residential programs.
- Serve an additional 100 individuals through outreach and prevention, including Community Center, Rattle and Roll, and the Strong Moms Ask for Help Newsletter.
- Explore options for serving more through increased residential services. Conduct feasibility assessment for a new building on the currently-vacant lot behind Mountain Home.
GOAL 2) Serve better, incorporating evidence-based practices and cutting-edge research.
Year One Accomplishments for Serving Better
After bringing in experts on trauma-informed care and developing our own internal expertise, we re-centered Mountain Home’s policies and procedures on the autonomy and empowerment of the client, streamlining the resident rulebook from 41 to 16 pages. While there are still clear requirements for living at Mountain Home, those requirements are now both easier to understand and more realistic to enforce. As a result, we’ve reduced unnecessary staff/client conflicts and created much more welcoming and supportive environment for the young moms who are already in crisis when they arrive at our doors.
Year Two Accomplishments for Serving Better
- We learned how to better serve mothers with addictions. In year two, we launched into a planning grant from Montana Healthcare Foundation to assess how Mountain Home can better serve mothers with substance abuse issues. In 2016, we had evicted 20% of our clients due to substance abuse, and one recent client (and mother of two) had died of an overdose, so the need was severe. Our first step was to conduct a financial feasibility study to determine whether to begin offering formal chemical dependency treatment. In part due to our size, and in part due to the state’s current budget crisis with fluctuating Medicaid reimbursement rates, Mountain Home opted not to become a substance abuse treatment center at this time. Instead, we strengthened partnerships with other agencies providing substance use treatment, trained staff on identifying and referring clients with substance abuse issues, and contracted with a Licensed Addictions Counselor to both counsel clients and to coach staff through situations as they arise. The results have already been impressive. In 2017, we evicted only 6% of clients due to substance abuse issues (compared to 20% in 2016).
- We streamlined internal systems. Sometimes quality of care is interrupted simply by the logistical challenges of serving so many people with so many varying needs. In year two, a staff committee dubbed the “clarity committee,” identified areas of confusion or inefficiencies and created simple systems for improvement. Often simple things such as a free calendar tool for reserving vehicles turned out to make a big difference in day-to-day performance.
- We became a learning organization. In order to better understand where we are succeeding and where we need to improve, we needed better data. For that reason, we invested in data tracking and evaluation tools, converting all client record-keeping to an online database and employing an evidence-based tool designed to measure progress in programs for low-income parents called Life Skills Progression. Now that these systems are in place, we can be more nimble in identifying opportunities and trouble-spots for individual clients as well as for our programs as a whole.
Year Three Priorities for Serving Better
- Use newly-created evaluation tools to identify our strengths as well as opportunities for growth.
- Provide staff with high-quality training in best-practices, including Motivational Interviewing and Positive Youth Development. Where possible, in year three we will invest in our internal capacity to provide these trainings on an ongoing basis so that as new staff join our team, we can make sure that they can quickly have the opportunity to learn the necessary skills.
- Incorporate a more robust reproductive life planning educational tool into our work with every client, with the goal of safe spacing between children and reducing repeat unplanned pregnancies.
GOAL 3) Serve securely.
Year One and Two Accomplishments for Serving Securely
- We garnered pledges and gifts to pay down our mortgage in full! We’re proud to share that with generous gifts from the family of Bonnie Hamilton, Southgate Mall, Dr. Michael and Laura Snyder, and others in the community, we paid the $380,000 remaining on our mortgage. We now own our own home!
- We diversified our funding. Towards our ongoing financial sustainability, Mountain Home secured a capacity-building grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and hired our first-ever Director of Development and Planning, who has already led us in creating an ambitious but realistic development strategy to diversify funding sources. Already, we’ve increased private foundation donors significantly.
Year Three Priorities for Serving Securely
- Increase our visibility in the community in order to broaden our base of support. Through a targeted outreach and communications campaign, we are confident we can continue to grow our private funding as a buffer against the current unstable government sources.
- Collaborate with partner organizations in coalitions such as the At Risk Housing Coalition, Missoula’s nascent early childhood coalition, and the statewide Behavioral Health Alliance. As well, Executive Director Crissie McMullan will be connecting with national opportunities as a Zero to Three Fellow.
- Work towards addressing root issues that cause clients to need us in the first place. Toward that end, Mountain Home has signed onto an Exploratory Affiliation with Missoula Interfaith Collaborative’s Bridges and Leaders program. This program trains Mountain Home clients and direct-service staff to identify systemic problems that make it hard to access mental health care or break out of poverty, and then to become leaders in creating lasting solutions.
How you can help!
Mountain Home has long enjoyed collaborating with a network of service providers, funders, local, state and federal agencies, and individuals who are passionate about creating a brighter future, two generations at a time.
Now, we’re counting on that continued partnership to turn our five-year vision into a reality.
We invite you to:
1. Make a financial contribution! We cannot expand our reach, deepen our impact, or build a secure future without increasing our financial resources. Visit our donate page to give online, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.