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A WORD FROM OUR CEO

Signal Center’s focus on lifelong independence for all is the heart of our agency as we continue to respond to the devastation of the coronavirus, destructive tornadoes, and calls for racial justice. I firmly believe that the disruptions of the past year will have a lasting positive impact on our work.

We did more than transition to temporary virtual services, we carefully considered the systemic changes to our work that would inform and direct our future. We’ve advocated with community leaders to include individuals with disabilities and early childhood education in their plans and services. New partnerships with nonprofits, funders, government and businesses, have empowered us to not only meet urgent needs but also create sustainable solutions for the communities we serve. We are grateful for the support of our board, friends and funders.

This year, when we were so far apart physically, we brought our staff together in regular Town Hall meetings to celebrate our programs, address systemic racism, and build a workforce committed to each other and to our mission.

This annual report for 2020 tells the story of our efforts to embody resilience and forge a better future for the families and communities we serve.

Optimistically,

Donna McConnico

Donna McConnico, Chief Executive Officer

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION AT SIGNAL CENTERS

Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better.

Maya Angelou

Signal Centers has been a leader in celebrating diversity and advocating for equity and inclusion for individuals with disabilities and their families. This year has demonstrated the need for Signal to expand our understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The death of George Floyd launched a nationwide conversation and raised awareness of disparities existing in the justice system. The pandemic further exposed the racial inequities in housing, health care, and employment. More of us than ever before understand that communities of color have a different experience and we are aware of the need for systems change.

Signal Centers is committed to making intentional efforts to address any inequities that exist within our organization and to be a community leader in DEI. We began Town Hall meetings focused on diversity, equity and inclusion in May of 2020 and formed a DEI Panel to help guide our work. The following are a few of the intentional steps we have taken since that first meeting:

• Bimonthly Town Hall meetings to address diversity, equity and inclusion
• Staff and board survey by an external evaluator
• Training for managers and over 150 staff members
• Review of all policies and practices
• Intentional efforts at recruiting diverse staff
• Solicitation of of minority owned businesses as vendors
• Board Development Committee is addressing the need for diversity

We encourage our team to listen, self-reflect, and seek knowledge to gain understanding and grow compassion. We are firmly committed to standing against any form of racism.

Equity Panel

Tracy Bryant

Alejandra Castro

Carolyn Boyd

Leatryicia Smith

Wesley Mayes

Maria Vives

Valerie Renfro

Jerrica Aguilar

Simone Davis

Byron Meador

Jennifer Vinson

Charlotte Hubert

Donna McConnico

Joyce Jackson

FAMILY FORWARD

Funded by a grant from the City of Chattanooga, our mission is to prepare children for lifelong success from healthy pregnancies through early childhood development. Throughout the pandemic, Family Forward continued to provide intensive case management, mentoring and support virtually; provided emergency assistance with rent, utilities, diapers, food and other supplies to young families.

Outcomes During Covid

Adequate Prenatal Care for Mothers

Teen Parent Graduation Rate

Livelihood During COVID


FAMILY FORWARD: 100%
HAMILTON COUNTY: 76%
TENNESSEE: 59%
TARGET ZIP CODES: 49%


FAMILY FORWARD: 91%
UNITED STATES: 53%

STABILITY INCREASED BY +35%

HOUSING VULNERABILITY DECREASED BY -21%

INCOME VULNERABILITY DECREASED BY -28%

0 Diapers delivered to Family Forward families
0 Contacts made with Family Forward families
0 Assessments made with families

CHILDREN’S SERVICES

In the first two months of the pandemic our teachers found creative ways to continue educating our children virtually through a distanced learning program. Because of our COVID protocols, children returned to in-person services in May. This allowed parents and essential workers to return to work, children to stay engaged and teachers to continue developing relationships with families.

0 Virtual visits completed with children and families
0 Children served through Children’s Services and Summer Camps
0 Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s) completed for children with disabilities

EARLY INTERVENTION SERVICES

The first step in addressing developmental delays is conducting an assessment. Signal Centers provides this assessment for children across East Tennessee. This assessment provides the roadmap for early intervention services. This year’s shift to virtual appointments yielded the advantage of increased engagement by parents in the assessment process.

Once assessed, Signal Centers’ staff provide ongoing developmental therapy sessions for families in Southeast Tennessee. Providing intervention at the earliest point in a child’s life promotes better outcomes for children for lifelong learning. Performing these sessions virtually empowered parents to be more hands-on with implementing developmental strategies. This led to parents becoming partners with therapists and better advocates for their children.

0 Referrals received
0 Telehealth evaluations
0 Visits via Telehealth
0 Families served virtually

CHILD CARE WAGE$® TENNESSEE

The WAGE$ program has seen a huge uptick in applications as word about the program continues to spread across the state. It took nearly 14 months to grow the program from zero to one million dollars in supplements distributed and only 5 months to go from one million to two million dollars.

$0 In salary supplements distributed (Through March 2021)
0 Educators Paid
0 Child care centers participating

CHILD CARE RESOURCE AND REFERRAL NETWORK

The pandemic has been devastating for child care providers and for families who depend on this industry to maintain their employment. CCR&R has been able to actually enhance the training and professional development of the child care workforce and support the quality of child care services statewide by shifting to virtual training and coaching for educators. New trainings were added to provide practical guidance on safely providing child care in the midst of the pandemic.

The Lean Into You podcast was launched to promote self-care for child care providers who were stretched to continue providing vital services this year. To date, Lean Into You has been downloaded over 4,000 times.

SMALL BUSINESS ACADEMY

Prior to the pandemic, CCR&R launched the Small Business Academy to help support the business practices of child care centers and family care providers. We could have never predicted how important these services would prove to be, as COVID forced child care centers to close all across our state. Jacquetta Maples, owner of Loving Childcare, completed the Small Business Academy prior to COVID. She says the academy increased her confidence as a business owner, and helped her business survive once the lockdown forced closures around the state.

VIRTUAL CPR/FIRST AID TRAINING

Like many of our other services, CCR&R converted all of our trainings to a virtual format. When it came to offering CPR and First Aid training, both of which require hands-on instruction, this became particularly challenging. We collaborated with our contracted instructors to develop a hybrid training program that incorporated both virtual instruction and in-person, socially distanced assessments.

0 Professionals attended CCR&R trainings
0 Educators certified in CPR
0 Professionals attended Small Business Academy

ADULT DAY SERVICES

One of the most important aspects of Adult Day Services (ADS) is connectivity. Our outcomes have proven that ADS has reduced feelings of isolation and depression in our participants. When COVID forced us to cease in-person services, our primary focus became continuing to provide that feeling of community with participants at home. We accomplished that by dropping off activity baskets, writing frequent letters, and creating “Club Signal,” a club where participants could stay in touch while engaging in virtual activities, from going to concerts to traveling the world.

STAYING CONNECTED FROM AFAR

One of the most important aspects of Adult Day Services (ADS) is connectivity. Our outcomes have proven that ADS has reduced feelings of isolation and depression in our participants. When COVID forced us to cease in-person services, our primary focus became continuing to provide that feeling of community with participants at home. We accomplished that by dropping off activity baskets, writing frequent letters, and creating “Club Signal,” a club where participants could stay in touch while engaging in virtual activities, from going to concerts to traveling the world.

0 Family and participant contacts to encourage engagement
0 Activity packs distributed to promote physical and emotional health
0 “Club Signal” virtual events held

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

Assistive Technology Services promotes independence and an improved quality of life for individuals with a variety of disabilities. We assessed and provided equipment and devices to meet the individualized needs of each person. Services for those with love vision included creating support groups, training, orientation and mobility and more.

ACCESSIBILITY AWARENESS SUMMIT

The second annual Signal Centers Accessibility Awareness Summit was converted to a virtual event over the course of a few weeks. Headlined by our keynote, Jared Spool, the summit was comprised of eight sessions with accessibility experts, covering topics ranging from voice technology to artificial intelligence. Over 300 people attended the event from all over the world.

BYRON MEADOR

Byron Meador, a Vision Specialist, is blind himself and leads classes on computer skills, software use and the accessibility features of devices. During the pandemic, he has conducted these classes remotely. In a time where digital connectivity is at a premium, these classes have ensured those with vision loss can stay ahead of the curve.

0 Trainings for those with vision loss to foster independence
0 Devices given to 117 individuals to promote accessibility
0 Individuals received 92 orientation and mobility sessions to improve quality of life

HOMELESS SERVICES

In the midst of the pandemic, the City of Chattanooga recognized that the homeless population of our city would be disproportionately affected by the virus. Through Signal Centers’ oversight of the Chattanooga Interagency Council on Homelessness (CICH), we have brought together a multitude of services and organizations to focus on ending homelessness for many families and individuals.

DOLLY PARTON’S IMAGINATION LIBRARY

In the fall of 2020, we learned that Hamilton County was about to become the only county in Tennessee to not provide the Imagination Library to young children. Signal stepped up and in January 2021, became the official partner for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Hamilton County. This meant becoming responsible for the fundraising to support this vital initiative. Hamilton County children of all incomes, aged birth to five, are eligible for enrollment in this program.

• Over 12,000 children in Hamilton County receive books each month
• Young children receive a free book a month until they turn five
• Every dollar donated is matched by the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND FINANCIALS

President Bill Lloyd
President-Elect Mark Neighbors
Treasurer Sue Munson
Treasurer-Elect Rob Malone
Secretary Anne Marie Stone
Secretary-Elect Rosemarie Hill
David Babb John Cosgrove
Joe Dickson David Fairchild
Marj Flemming Gabriel Franceschi
Jermaine Freeman Rafielle Freeman
Wendy Gibson Cynthia Hall
Ellen Heavilon Marian May
Charles Megahee Jennifer Nichols
Sushie Pentiah Laura Pierce
Butch Preisel Judith St.Charles
Barbie Standefer Jim Steffner
Nancy Underwood Shula Yelliott

Annual Operating Budget: $20,394,912

Total Program Budget

Program Vs. Administrative Costs

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