Sharon Tucker,

Human Resources Manager, Kitsap Credit Union

Kitsap Credit Union has a long standing working relationship with Cares of Washington – three of their employees, staffed through Cares, have been working at the financial institution for more than fourteen years. Ms Tucker herself has been involved with Cares for about seven years, “Cares has great client support services. Their case workers are very proactive in identifying new employment opportunities for their clients. As an example, Cares staff recently worked with KCU management to research where their clients ‘ capabilities would be a good match for other roles within our company.”

“Kitsap Credit Union is a very community-oriented organization. We help people live productive, fulfilling lives. Cares of Washington is an apt partner as they contribute to our values. Our mission is to empower employees in every opportunity, to make a positive and lasting difference and to build a stronger community.” Ms Tucker recommends Cares of Washington to other employers, as they have consistently provided outstanding client support services. In fact, Ms Tucker is aware of some employers having worked with Cares for 20 to 30 years. “Cares (case workers) are involved, responsible and responsive. They try very hard to make it work for both their clients and employers such as Kitsap Credit Union.”

Stephanie Lawson

The Advancement Project (TAP) Participant

Being a participant on the Advancement Project through Cares of Washington for over a year, Stephanie Lawson has a high touch, one on one relationship with her Cares job coach. Support services provided to Stephanie under the program include: consultation on eligibility for various unemployment and financial assistance programs and government subsidies; personal financial management advice such as tax exemptions and savings planning; and job posting alerts.

Her job coach has been exceedingly proactive in providing timely and relevant financial support services for her unique requirements. When the Lawson family’s house became flooded, her Cares job coach reached out to the community to obtain clothes and toys for Ms Lawson’s children, giving the Lawson family a boost in recovering their losses from the property damage outside of insurance claims.

Another tangible example of the positive difference Cares has made, is when Ms Lawson’s two children were taken out of childcare because of an administrative mistake on their eligibility for government subsidies. Ms Lawson’s job coach quickly rectified this situation, minimizing the interruption to the children’s childcare attendance.

“(My Cares job coach) was my lighthouse. She helped me navigate my way through all the legislative requirements and figure out what would work for my family and I,” states Ms Lawson. “I really needed that intensive support and guidance, and without Cares, would not have known of all the welfare benefits I am eligible for. My Cares job coach has not only saved our family money, but shone a clear path forward for us towards self-sufficiency.”

Becky Thiele

Parent Of Supported Employment Program (SEP) Participant

Becky Thiele’s son has been on the Supported Employment Program for just over a year, during which he has been successfully placed and continues to thrive in, a fulfilling job. “The Cares case worker visits my son at his workplace once a week, to check on his progress and act as his advocate, and go-between, with the store manager. When he first started working, his Cares coach recognized that the job assigned to him was not appropriate for his capabilities. So the Cares coach worked alongside my son for a couple of months until she secured another role that he could carry out independently. [The Cares’ case worker] did everything she could to make things work for us.”

This one-on-one mentoring, and the communicative and caring approach of Cares has allowed Ms Thiele’s son to settle into his job well, “He is very happy at work.” Outside of day-to-day job performance, the Cares case worker has also helped Ms Thiele’s son with additional support, such as negotiating vacation scheduling on his behalf.

As a mother, Cares of Washington has allowed Ms Thiele to have peace of mind, “I’m no longer worrying about him during the day, as I know that someone is looking after him at work. Cares has been so supportive and professional, and we have found nothing but success with the services from Cares. Even if things don’t work out at first, our case worker will persist until they do work. We feel so lucky to have gone through Cares, as we know of other families who have engaged other job placement agencies who have not succeeded as we have.”

Katie Deschenes

Regional Human Resources – Employment Representative, Safeway

Although Katie Deschenes has been working with Cares of Washington for just over a year, she has already evidenced the ongoing benefits Cares provides its clients. “Cares has a longer-term focus than just helping clients find a job. Cares is about helping people retain their jobs, and ultimately, to become (financially) independent.” Ms Deschenes emphasizes that Cares’ job coaches are able to provide long-term assistance to their clients, whereas other, similar non-profit organizations are only able to provide support to an employer for 60 to 90 days.

The higher retention rate of clients staffed through Cares (compared to other community-based employment services agencies) is a strong testament to the effectiveness and professionalism of Cares’ Client Support Managers. Safeway hires people with disadvantages through Cares mainly for positions as Courtesy or Assistance Clerks in stores. As Cares provides more adequate training to ensure employee readiness, store managers have reported higher job performance from Cares’ clients.

Ms Deschenes finds the tangibility of seeing people with disabilities at work in Safeway stores the most fulfilling aspect of working with Cares. Through partnering with Cares of Washington, Safeway has greater organizational diversity, which not only appeals to a broader set of customers, but more accurately reflects the communities they serve. Workplace diversity is in direct alignment with Safeway’s values.

Ms Deschenes encourages other employers to engage with Cares of Washington – from a partnering standpoint they are approach able and professional. “Cares (Client Support) staff is genuinely concerned about the welfare of their clients, not only in terms of initial job placement, but on a much longer-term basis. I see Cares case workers getting genuine satisfaction out of their job. They are really successful in proactively building relationships with the Safeway store managers, by setting up employee assessments, and persevering in accomplishing the win-win situation for both people with disabilities and Safeway.”

Ms Deschenes has also been serving as a Board Member for Cares of Washington since 2009.

Marnie Claywell

Homeownership Housing Counselor, Parkview Services

Parkview Services is a non-profit organization enabling those with disabilities find temporary, transitional or permanent housing in King and Snohomish counties. Parkview Services has been partnering with Cares of Washington since December 2008 to jointly provide clients with financial literacy programs. These are typically seminars on topics such as personal banking, credit and budgeting.

“(Cares) case workers are so committed to their clients,” states Ms Claywell. “Not only do they provide education on how to avoid financial pitfalls, but they are true advocates, with real empathy and compassion for their clients.” Ms Claywell notes a specific example where the Cares case worker was instrumental in negotiating a client out of a home purchase, because she knew the property the client made an offer for was not what the client really wanted. “In the end, the Cares case worker was an instrumental part of the team of partners working to help our mutual client find the perfect home, a home that our client really loves.”

Cares develops close relationships and builds solid trust with their clients. Parkview Services greatly benefits from this insight, and gleans another perspective of the client situation through the Cares liaison manager. “Our partnership with Cares has been very positive. Collaboratively our organizations help our clients achieve home retention and ownership – and therefore security and consistency in their lives.”

“I absolutely recommend Cares as a partner to other non-profit organizations servicing people with developmental disabilities. They are a huge value add to these individuals who are facing daily struggles with regards to employment and financial literacy. Cares of Washington is committed to their clients, and applies a holistic, long-term approach to ensuring their clients obtain self-sufficiency and are empowered to improve the quality of their own lives. (Cares’ staff’s) heart is really in their work, they treat their clients like an extension of their own family.”