Replacement sought for Kandi Works

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners is continuing the process to close the Kandi Works Developmental Achievement Center. The board […]

Kandi Works logo

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners is continuing the process to close the Kandi Works Developmental Achievement Center. The board in October accepted a needs summary prepared by the county’s Health and Human Services Department. County officials will be making recommendations to the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to help serve people displaced by the closure. Commissioners are also eyeing a number of details tied to the closing, from retaining client records to selling physical assets left by the closure. 

The decision to close Kandi Works was made by its board of directors earlier this summer, with the Kandiyohi County Board approving it in September. 

Kandi Works Developmental Achievement Center, a nonprofit agency that provided programming and services for individuals with developmental disabilities, was assisting approximately 80 people when the decision was made to close the facility recently. 

There are worries about the future of entities like Kandi Works. The lack of adequate reimbursement from the state, transportation costs and legislative changes to the minimum wage laws are all major hurdles for day training and habilitation centers. The COVID-19 pandemic was a drippling if not fatal blow for programs everywhere. 

Kandiyohi County officials’ main goal is to help find new opportunities for those who relied on Kandi Works for its services such as employment and habilitation programming. 

“It is very important for those folks,” said Kandiyohi County Commissioner Rollie Nissen. “Just to have a place to go, to do something. The smiles on their faces, it was wonderful to see.” 

In October commissioners accepted a needs assessment completed by Health and Human Services Supervisor Kathy Nelson. The assessment reported on what service needs would no longer be met for the clients of Kandi Works now that it is closing. 

As part of the assessment, the county made two recommendations to DHS. The first was for the state department to approve an increase in the number of individuals West Central Industries in Willmar could serve. 

Many of Kandi Works clients would like to join West Central Industries, but the facility’s current license won’t allow it. The Willmar facility also has a waiting list. Nelson said DHS would rely heavily on the county’s recommendation when deciding whether to approve a new license for West Central Industries. 

“DHS said as long as we had it recommended in our needs determination, they would have no problem going forward with that license,” Nelson said. 

The county is also recommending the state allow a new entity to provide programming in the Kandi Works service area, such as day training, habilitation and adult day care. One is Divine House, which has shown interest in the past about expanding its day training and habilitation programming into Kandiyohi County. 

While some of Kandi Works’ clients have decided to find services elsewhere, others are waiting to make that call, Nelson said, hoping a new program will form in the Kandiyohi and Atwater areas, where Kandi Works was located. Many of those individuals are medically fragile or have other challenges that would make transportation to Willmar or another city difficult. 

(Source: West Central Tribune) 

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