Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Moose Tracks jobs to move to Cloquet

 

August 23, 2018



Program changes for vocational services for people with disabilities are scheduled to result in the closure of the Moose Tracks program in Moose Lake in May 2019. It is anticipated services will be relocated to a Cloquet site.

The MN Department of Human Services was contacted by the Star-Gazette with a number of questions and their official answer follows:

Q: What goal do you have for moving the Moose Tracks center to Cloquet and how will the services change?

The goal is to improve vocational services for people with disabilities by providing the right training, tools, and support so that clients can choose for themselves the kind of work that would be the most interesting and rewarding for them. To accomplish that, we have been shifting our vocational programs statewide away from facility-based employment and focusing instead on helping clients prepare for, find and keep meaningful employment in the community. There are some important benefits to doing this:

• Rather than having jobs chosen for them (as has often happened in the past), clients choose work that fits their individual interests and talents.

• Employment in the community places workers with disabilities in a more integrated setting. Facility-based work (also called sheltered employment) provided a job but very little opportunity to work alongside and develop relationships with non-disabled coworkers.

• Under the new program, participants are hired directly by community employers and paid minimum wages or better. Previously, participants were hired by vocational service providers and paid subminimum wages.

We began launching these new vocational programs last year and have already implemented many with great success. Clients and employers have embraced the programs and feel well-served by them.

Q: Why move to Cloquet?

The goal is to serve clients in the communities where they live and work. The majority of those currently participating in Moose Tracks live and work north of Moose Lake. Having the site located in the Cloquet area will be a better use of resources. The program will still be able to support clients living and working in the Moose Lake area.

Q: What is the cost of a Cloquet location?

We are in the early planning stage and have not even identified a location.

Q: What is the future of the two dozen jobs in Moose Lake?

Staff at the program will come from Moose Tracks. We do not anticipate job loss.

Moose Lake Mayor Ted Shaw responded via phone on the Moose Tracks closure, “A loss of two dozen jobs for a small community like ours has a major impact. Local families are affected. Centralization of services shrinks the economic base of our small towns.”

Shaw went on to say, “Cloquet is not central to all the services we provide in our area. In the Moose Tracks program clients served come from as far as Saginaw but also are drawn from Sandstone to the south. We are proud that Moose Tracks has provided an innovative program and many of their ideas have spread to other programs in the State. I am not happy that this move is being considered without public input on all the implications.”

 

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