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Developmental Achievement Center gets boost from county

Clients of the Douglas County Developmental Achievement Center in Alexandria engaged in physical training in the facility’s exercise room on Wednesday. (Lowell Anderson/Echo Press)1 / 2
DAC clients assembled plastic parts for Donnelly Custom Manufacturing.2 / 2

The Douglas County Developmental Achievement Center (DAC) will no longer have the lowest client rates among similar programs in the state of Minnesota.

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At its meeting Tuesday, the Douglas County Board approved a DAC rate variance for $67.57 per day and $50.67 per partial day. This is an increase to their previous rates of $44.03 per day and $33.02 per partial day, which according to the DAC, was in the bottom 1.8 percent among programs in Minnesota.

The DAC is a social service agency that provides day training and habilitation services for residents living with disabilities. They provide training for job skills, independent living skills, social awareness and skills, volunteer opportunities and community inclusion.

The DAC had been operating with rates lower than nearly all of the programs in the state, including those in West Central Minnesota. Full day programs are $57.26 in Grant County, $58.61 in Todd County and $68.91 in Wadena County – each at least $10 more than DAC’s before the variance.

Douglas County DAC Director Carla Bettin said clients will benefit the most by the rate increase by having more staff to offer them instruction.

“We’ll be able to hire more staff, which means more one-on-one programming, smaller staff-to-client ratios,” Bettin said. “That’s going to make the biggest difference.”

Bettin said the increased budget will also be used to maintain the building at 524 Willow Drive, replace windows and carpeting, install a security fence and renovate bathrooms to be functional for their consumers.

Douglas County pays for up to seven clients to receive services at the DAC at any time. Bettin said other clients in the program receive funding from state and federal sources, and only one client pays for the service out of pocket.

The motion was passed 5-0, and many of the commissioners voiced their approval of the DAC.

“This segment of our population is very easily forgotten,” Commissioner Jim Stratton said. “Unless you have people who step up and say, ‘This is something we need to get done.’”