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This is a story about hope, opportunity, and a Chihuahua named Bruiser. It takes place at Cha Chas dog day care center in East Sacramento, where 34-year-old Ashley Robertson has been working since October 2020.
“I’m usually more of a cat person,” she said, then quickly added, “but I like dogs just as much.”
Ashley Robertson with Bruiser, her favorite dog in Cha Cha’s Doggie Daycare
Robertson has autism and her job at Cha Cha is supported by Progressive employment concepts, who supports companies that hire people with developmental disabilities. Progressive is partner of Corporate Advisory Board for Northern California, Part of that Competence center for developmental disorders In the UC Davis MIND Institute. The collaboration introduces qualified applicants with disabilities into the economy, thereby increasing diversity, equal opportunities and integration in regional workplaces. Employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities are very limited. The company advisory board thus acts as a bridge between employers and the agencies that can support companies in the induction and training process.
Cha Cha’s owner Desalene Jones was asked to contact the MIND Institute when she noticed that a day care center next door, where children with autism congregated, was closed due to the pandemic.
“I wanted to know how I can help; how I could be the change, “she said. The Business Advisory Council discussed her vision and linked it to Progressive Employment Concepts and introduced Robertson as a possible setting.
But dog daycare work isn’t for everyone, warned Jones. “The dogs are free here and run around and it is different than in many typical kennels when 30 dogs jump on you. Ashley went through and was interested and it seemed like a good game. “
And it was. Robertson now works 16 hours a week.
A great game
On a recent day at work, Robertson described her duties at Cha Cha while caressing her favorite dog at daycare.
Cha Cha’s owner Desalene Jones (left) and Ashley Robertson feed the dogs a snack
“I like this little Chihuahua named Bruiser because he’s really cute,” she explained between cuddles. “I like to play with the dogs and also like to take a nap with them. They lie down in every place they can find and I usually sit with them. I also work on the leash, feeding the dogs their lunch and often cleaning up their mess, ”said Robertson.
That, of course, comes with the Territory in a place whose website proudly proclaims #MustLovePoop.
“If you want to cuddle with a dog, eventually you will wash a wall. Even if you’re not in this industry, if you want to cuddle a dog, take some poop up so they go hand in hand, ”laughed Jones.
As part of the agreement with Progressive Employment Concepts, Robertson receives a regular salary and has a job coach, Marlene Mangabat, who helps her at work from time to time. Cha Cha’s also receives financial support while Ashley is training. The goal is to gradually reduce Mangabat’s role until it is no longer needed.
“One of the greatest rewards as a job coach is seeing the changes,” said Mangabat. “At Ashely we were concerned that she would learn the dogs’ names, but she learned them quickly and was then able to give them orders. – You can see how trust grows. “
Would you like to hire someone through the program?
• Contact the Northern California Business Advisory Council
• They find you an agency for assisted recruitment that is part of the team
• They help find qualified applicants to interview
• The agency provides free pre-screening, training and ongoing long-term support and retention for the employee, including a job coach
• Help develop programs for diversity, equity and inclusion in your company.