As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, WACOSA has been successfully providing services to people with disabilities since 1963. WACOSA was originally founded by a group of parents who wanted to create opportunities for their children and others with disabilities. From a grassroots organization, WACOSA has grown dramatically over 59 years and is now an 7.8 million dollar service provider, employing approximately 140 staff. In 2021, WACOSA staff served 640 adults with disabilities with a variety of cognitive and physical challenges including cerebral palsy, severe and persistent mental illness, autism, hearing and visual impairments and traumatic brain injuries. Persons receiving services at WACOSA are functionally limited in three or more areas of daily living. Our services are provided at six program locations located in Waite Park, St. Cloud and Sauk Centre, Minnesota. WACOSA is primarily funded through fees for service, grants and contributions.
WACOSA’s mission is “to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to work and live in their community”. Providing productive work, along with job placement, supervision and coaching, are key elements of our services. We believe that the opportunity to experience success at a job contributes to an individual’s independence and self-sufficiency, and builds self-esteem. WACOSA also provides services to older adults with disabilities through a cooperative effort with the Whitney Senior Center located in St. Cloud, MN. This program offers leisure and enrichment activities as well as volunteer opportunities for seniors with disabilities.
WACOSA provides person-centered services and supports to individuals with a wide range of abilities and limitations. Some individuals require complete supervision and assistance in all activities of daily living and personal care. In contrast, we also serve people who work independently in the community, requiring only intermittent follow-up and support. Our stakeholder base includes persons with disabilities who directly participate in WACOSA’s services, their family members, guardians, caretakers, residential staff members, area businesses, school districts, county and state referral partners and all others who actively work with and support our vision to improve the lives of persons with special needs and barriers to employment.
WACOSA’s programs (with the exception of Senior Services) have a strong vocational emphasis. We provide employment opportunities through individual placement with community employers, work crews and center-based work opportunities. Our customized job search assistance includes locating appropriate employment, resume refinement, interview coaching, employment placement, training and follow-along services.
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