Local business promotes job independence
A business that laid its roots out of the back of a car, is undergoing some changes after nearly a decade.
Haugen & Keck Inc., located in the Gardnerville Ranchos is smoothing out the edges of their integration and employment training programs for adults with developmental disabilities
“We’ve broadened our services from an emphasis on social skills and just our two day programs,” Founder Sandra Haugen Keck said. “We now have a work day focus and want to help transition folks to part-time paid employment, when it is appropriate based on their abilities.”
Haugen & Keck provides day programs with classes in things like creating small talk, interview skills and daily routine navigation.
The ultimate goal of the courses that the company offers is to develop the people in the classes into productive, competitively employable adults.
“We want to be able to determine a person’s strengths and weaknesses and create a customized employment plan,” Haugen Keck said. “We want to be able to find people part-time positions that are both beneficial to the person as well as the employer. Getting these folks out into the community and integrating them anyway we can is our ultimate goal.”
While Haugen Keck knows that some adults that are part of the day programs will never be able to integrate into a part-time paid position or even a volunteer situation, creating a situation where those adults can learn skills to function in a more independent way is the priority.
Those adults that are able to graduate from the day program are integrated into one of the job training programs, which allows them to work competitive wage earning jobs, or spend time volunteering at nonprofits.
“Once one of our folks is in their job, both the employer and the employee sees the benefit and capabilities,” Founder Tom Keck said. “Once they are there and start working, everyone sees a huge difference in their original thoughts about the employment.”
Haugen Keck and Keck both agreed that finding more places, both businesses and nonprofits like churches and thrift shops, to collaborate with the several job integration programs offered is difficult.
Many employment opportunities have concerns in regards to insurance or productivity.
“Our folks working the supported or customized employment program are never on the job site alone,” Keck said. “Our job coaches are there guiding our folks through their work routine. They work with the employer to create any workplace modifications or job carving to ensure the person is still able to be productive and beneficial and able to compete with other employees earning competitive wages.”
Because Haugen & Keck receives both referrals and funding from two state agencies, The Department of Aging and Disability through Rural Regional Center, and Department of Employment and Training through the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, all of the people who participate in the job training or vocational programs within the community are covered by a massive state mandated insurance policy.
At any given time that means Haugen & Keck is able to provide both day program services as well as the more advanced job and vocational training to 15-18 adults with disabilities that have graduated from Douglas High School assistance.
“All of our job programs are individual related meaning we get to know the person through the evaluation process to ensure we are able to place them appropriately,” Haugen Keck said. “Our new customized employment is choice driven and individualized. We want these folks to be a productive member of society, on their own terms and in a place where they will succeed. We want to set them up for success.”
Haugen Keck and Keck want to be that place that parents of adults with developmental disabilities know that there are resources for their children to be productive and independent.
Pulling from their own experience with their son, Dean Miley, the pair strive to provide services and support to those families who may be asking the question, “Are there resources for my child?”
“We were the voice for our nonverbal son who worked at Sharkey’s for years,” Haugen Keck said. “We were those parents looking for answers, wanting our son to be a member of society. Anything we can do to help both the families and the individuals, we are going to try our hardest to do. They want to be members of society and be seen as the people that they are, just as much as all of us without disabilities do.”
Haugen & Keck is located at 1281 Kimmerling Road, Suites A14 and 15 in Gardnerville. They also have an office in Carson City.
For more information on the programs they offer call 782-7019.