In 1978, a group of parents, concerned about the future of their children diagnosed with a developmental disability came together to seeka solution. At this time, large state
funded institutions were the prevalent choice for treatment and residential placement
for such children. This was at the dawn of what is called the “deinstitutionalization” movement. Michigan was at the forefront of this initiative and the founders of MOKA, seeking answers and better options,fortuitously were approached by the placement director of the Muskegon Regional Center for form a nonprofit organization for this express purpose.
MOKA’s initial and primary mission therefore was to open community based homes, licensed as adult foster care by the State of Michigan, and assist children and adults living at one of the State’s large institutions to become physically and socially included in our local communities.
After one home opened in May of 1979, MOKA expanded rapidly opening thirteen more homes throughout west Michigan by April , 1981. The acronym “MOKA” emerged due to the geographic area we then covered--the four counties which make up our acronym:
Muskegon, Ottawa, Kent and Allegan.
MOKA has steadily expanded since those early days including:
- Facilitating the
acquisition of community based jobs through “supported employment”
starting in 1988;
- Successful demonstration
grant that individuals with developmental disabilities could locate and
purchase their own home through the “Home of My Own” grant awarded by the
Michigan DD Council in 1991;
- Expanded “community living
supports” through the 1990’s to assist individuals desiring to live independently
in the community;
- Expanded into skill building in the early 2000’s creating “launch pads” for community based programming;
- Expanded treatment options for children with autism by providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment through the Michigan Medicaid mandate for autism coverage; expanding into private pay ABA Treatment in 2016;
Presently, MOKA supports over 800 children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, including autism. Many of the individuals supported by MOKA also have multiple diagnoses and complex and co-occurring disorders. We currently employ approximately 550 employees toward our mission and have approximately 450 front line employees including residential support staff, CLS Support Staff, and Skill Building Mentors.
Throughout MOKA’s history, special attention has been paid to the mission to promote inclusion (an fight stigma) and to keep the focus on the individuals we support. Thus our tagline, “See the individual in everyone.” This intense focus extends to an understanding that the relationship between the individuals we support and our front line employees is the basis for our quality. So we understand implicitly that a “culture of respect” for everyone is essential to maintain high quality services.
MOKA is Unique
Here are a few things unique about MOKA:
-All supports and services are entirely community based (no facility larger than a six bed home.)
- MOKA is still serving some individuals who moved out of the regional center in 1978.
- Demand for MOKA services has supported thirty seven years of steady growth
- Stability: Average length of service of all employees is over nine (9) years.
- Employee satisfaction 10-15% above national and state employers as validated by third party survey.
- MOKA achieved two “perfect” accreditation surveys from the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities with no recommendations in 1999 and 2015.
A CARF Three Year Accreditation was awarded to MOKA in 2015
for the following services: Community Housing, Community Integration, Services
Coordination, and Supported Living.
It must be noted that MOKA’s 2015 resulted in “no recommendations”
which means that the agency substantially met every one CARF’s numerous quality
standards, a feat achieved by only 3% of agencies accredited internationally.
CARF accreditation demonstrates MOKA's quality, accountability, and commitment
to the satisfaction of the persons served. For more information on CARF,
To make a gift online, click on the Donate button below. You may also mail a check or money order payable to: MOKA Foundation, 715 Terrace Street, Muskegon, MI 49440; or call (800) 644-2434 ext. 648 to make a credit card gift over the phone.
MOKA Foundation is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and gifts are tax deductible. We’ll acknowledge your gift with a prompt letter for tax purposes.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Thomas Zmolek, Executive Director of the MOKA Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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