In 1978, a group of parents, concerned about the future of their children diagnosed with a developmental disability came together to seek a 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, were approached by the placement director of the Muskegon Regional Center to form a nonprofit organization for this expressed purpose.
MOKA’s initial and primary mission was to open community based homes licensed as adult foster care by the State of Michigan, and assist children and adults living at 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 serve--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 grant demonstration that individuals with developmental disabilities could purchase their own home through the “Home of My Own” grant awarded by the Michigan DD Council from 1991 to 1992; - Expanded “community living supports” through the 1990’s assisting individuals to live independently in the community; - Expanded skill building options in the early 2000’s creating “launch pads” for community based programming; - Expanded treatment options for children and young adults with autism by providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment through the Michigan Medicaid mandate for autism coverage; expanded 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 have multiple diagnoses, complex and co-occurring disorders.
We currently employ approximately 550 employees including 450 front line employees in roles of residential support staff, CLS Support Staff, Skill Building Mentors and Youth Autism Specialists.