Today, we are writing to give a broad update on where PRI (Partnership Resources, Inc.) is today in our continuing re-opening and rebuilding work within context of the pandemic. When we temporarily closed our doors, we never imagined that over a year later, we would be continuing to rebuild. Following is an update on where we are in several areas, and where we are going as we work every day to get closer to our pre-pandemic level of operations.
Since June 2020, our Day Services sites have been open providing two 3-hour shifts for in-person services. Today we are working to move all the sites back to a 6-hour service day. Our VIP location started providing a 6-hour day on May 10, and we anticipate the Minneapolis and St. Louis Park locations transitioning in early July.
In May 2020, we added the option to access Day Services virtually. This option will continue with no end date forecasted. Today, there remain individuals who are unable to safely attend services in-person or cannot return due to our capacity restrictions. These virtual services will continue as an option to reach as many of those individuals as possible. Virtual Day Services are available each afternoon, for 2 hours each weekday.
As our State and Cities continue to lift restrictions, PRI shifts operations to further expand options to our clients. Lifting of restrictions within PRI continues to be limited by the requirements we are under from the State Department of Human Services (DHS) that go beyond the CDC and MDH recommendations for other businesses. We remain under requirements such as limited cohort size (10 or less), distancing of 6 feet between individuals in facilities and mask wearing.
PRI continues to provide in-person and virtual Employment Services including:
- Employment Exploration
- Employment Development
- Employment Support
For those who were actively employed and not laid off during the pandemic, in-person, Employment Support Services re-started in June 2020. As weeks of closure turned into months, some employers gradually recalled employees from furloughs. Job coach support re-started as those jobs resumed and continues to grow as more recalls happen. Communication continues with employers to determine when and if former jobs will return for those who remain in furlough or layoff status. In-person and virtual service options for clients in unemployed status continue, but remain limited due to resources, staffing, and space constraints.
For many, the pandemic resulted in temporary or even permanent job layoffs. The need for Employment Exploration and Development services is significantly higher than pre-pandemic at PRI. We are also in the process of restructuring the Employment Services department at PRI after losing staff resources during the last year. Although this is not ideal, it opened the opportunity to rebuild in a thoughtful way that will ensure continued improvement in the employment services at PRI in the months. As we continue recruitment in this area, we anticipate more service availability as mid-summer approaches. This is in addition to the work that has already resumed and continues in this area.
For PRI, the pandemic meant a forced restructuring in every area of operations, from program services to administrative. Today, we are operating at just over 55% of pre-COVID revenues and with about 50% of staff positions. Increases in services, from the transition to a 6-hour day for Day Services, to expanding Employment Services requires more employees. The challenges in recruiting employees that existed prior to the pandemic have worsened, not just for our industry, but throughout many service driven industries. Recruiting new employees while retaining our dedicated employee base is a top priority as we continue to rebuild. We are seeing some success, but it is slow, and it is a reality we face and work within.
A few changes that directly impact the structure and delivery of program services:
- The Minneapolis and St. Louis Park sites now fall under the direction of Marc Skaug, Director of Day Services (formerly individual Program Directors, Marc being one of them, led each site).
- Due to budget constraints, the Art Director position was eliminated. With the support of grant dollars, this area is being re-defined as we continue arts programming led by our DSP employees and long-standing community partners.
- Recently, these services were divided into two core areas focused on:
- Services to build skills and engage in activities built around the goal of attaining community-based employment.
- Services to keep and maintain current community-based employment.
- Employment Exploration, Development, and the Vocational Immersion Program (VIP) now fall under the direction of Marijane Oquin, Director of Employment Advancement.
- Employment Support and job coaching services are now led by Terri Bauernfeind, Director of Employment Support.
With more individuals reaching full vaccination status, the number of individuals returning to in-person services at PRI is increasing. Yet, this does not mean that everyone is able to return. Since vaccination is a choice and not a requirement, individuals must also weigh the impact of having contact with both vaccinated and non-vaccinated clients and employees. In addition to other requirements and restrictions we are operating under, individual health vulnerabilities or ability to follow mask wearing and/or social distancing requirements may still limit safe access to services.
Continued Communication on Changes
In the upcoming weeks, we hope that DHS will continue to make decisions to lift some of the requirements we are under. Our coalition of Day and Employment service providers continues to urge DHS to re-evaluate requirements that put limits on who we can serve in-person and how many individuals can be served in our sites. As these changes are issued, and we adjust our policies and practices we will continue to send out communications.
More than a year after the start of the pandemic, none of us imagined we would be where we are today in terms of size, services, and continued impacts of COVID. In our work, we continue to strengthen as an organization, striving to eventually serve everyone again. Thank you to everyone for their patience, understanding, and support. If you have questions about your services and options, please contact the PRI Designated Coordinator or Director of your site/services or reach out to one of us.
Chief Executive Officer
Senior Director of Program Services