Orientation: Monday & Tuesday
The Mid-Winter Orientation plays a critical role in the success of not only the State administrators of WAP but of the network as a whole. These two days provide comprehensive information that is unparalleled and the opportunity for members to network with colleagues and get answers to their most pressing questions.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) staff leads the WAP Orientation. Attendees heard how the program operates and their responsibilities as WAP State administrators. DOE staff began with an overview of the legislative and statutory elements of WAP, while providing updates on changes (and predictions/expectations of changes) that will occur in 2013. Network partners like Joel Eisenberg, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, explained how WAP has the highest impact for users with a high-energy burden. In addition, this year Cynthia Simonson, of Simonson Management Services (SMS), kept things lively by rewarding trivia winners with Girl Scout cookies during their discussion of monitoring and state plans. Kelly Cutchin, also of SMS, reviewed how to write technical guides and manuals as well as health and safety guidance to ensure success for each and every home weatherized.
Orientation continued on Tuesday with presenters speaking about program management; regulatory items, such as the OMB Circulars; and monitoring. The highlight of the day was the demonstrations of WAP’s new initiatives and online resources. DOE even got in on the action and presented WAP Orientation with an open source online training program through the National Weatherization Training Platform. In addition, NASCSP’s Jenae Bjelland, Director of the Healthy Homes Initiative, gave attendees an overview of how the initiative ties in with the work they’re already doing and showcased the training and technical assistance online tools and resources via www.WxPlusHealth.org.
NASCSP Mid-Winter Conference:
During the WAP committee meeting, Bob Scott, Director of Energy Services at NASCSP, gave out Weatherization Day awards to States who held events or got Governor’s Proclamations, recognizing the efforts of our members. WAP members also got a legislative update on pertinent issues like sequestration, fiscal year 2014 funding, and the political picture here in Washington DC. There was also time to collect questions and concerns to share with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and with the network. These questions are critical and will likely lead to some productive discussions during Thursday’s Federal Perspective sessions.
In addition to the committee meetings, Jenae Bjelland, Director of the Healthy Homes Initiative at NASCSP, held a general session about the Weatherization Plus Health initiative and shared the features available at the WxPlusHealth.org website and demoed the new Weatherization Plus Health Mobile App, which walks technicians through health and safety issues commonly seen in low-income homes. The app should be downloadable in the near future. Lynette Praster, from Pennsylvania, walked State directors through how they decided to start a Weatherization Plus Health approach in her State and the process through which they have integrated services across programs.
This year, the WAP track started off with a new format—regional roundtable discussions. Attendees discussed common issues and potential resources, as well as questions to ask our federal DOE partners later in the day. A session on work quality focused on new DOE initiatives in addition to veteran WAP Director Cal Steiner’s effort to move the workforce forward and ensure a superior product. The afternoon included a discussion with DOE staff. NASCSP members followed up on the questions generated from the morning’s roundtables and received an update on changes and innovations that are coming.
The focus in the morning session was on looking at the WAP in a new funding era and pursuing leveraging partnerships. Federal partners from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were on hand to discuss the give and take between WAP and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) while members discussed their strategies for dealing with a changing fiscal landscape and efforts to ensure WAP remains relevant. NASCSP Weatherization Plus Health Consultant, Lisa Kesecker, introduced the soon to be available Income Generation and Leveraging Manual, which will provide a guide to grantees in finding new funding sources, securing partnerships, and moving us forward. Stay tuned – we will let you know when the new manual is available.