In a much-anticipated first step to launching a Children’s Autism Center in the Fort Dodge area, Opportunity Village has hired Kristin Baade to facilitate family support services in Webster County and surrounding areas.
Baade, a Fort Dodge native, began her role as family services navigator for the Children’s Autism Center in Fort Dodge in March. Her responsibilities include raising community awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as services provided by the Children’s Autism Center.
Baade will work to identify needs specific to the Fort Dodge area in an effort to tailor trainings and workshops for families, educators and others providers who want to learn more about autism and how they can help provide education, support and services geared towards children on the spectrum. She will also assist in fundraising efforts for the new center.
“I have watched the success of the Children’s Autism Center in Clear Lake and have wanted to see Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services come to Fort Dodge for a while,” Baade said. “I am excited to be part of bringing this center to our community.”
A graduate of Buena Vista University with a degree in psychology, Baade spent more than a decade working in human services. She previously worked for Opportunity Village as a team coordinator, leading staff in providing support services for individuals with disabilities. She also worked for the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Fort Dodge as a grant facilitator.
A mother of seven, Baade’s oldest son is on the autism spectrum. Baade said it was — and still is — a struggle to find local services for her son, who is now 20 years old
“Providers in the community tried to help and offered what they could but there was little geared specifically towards autism. We did a good deal of traveling outside of Fort Dodge to access services,” she said. “We went through some very difficult situations that were really hard on our son and frustrating for our family.”
To better advocate for and support her son, Baade attended numerous seminars and trainings to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder. In previous roles with Opportunity Village, Baade worked with adults on the spectrum. She also believes in the services provided at the Children’s Autism Center, which are rooted in ABA principles.
“Having a board-certified behavior analyst who can implement this therapy for children is huge and the fact that we will have access to one in Fort Dodge will greatly benefit children on spectrum,” Baade said. “I strongly believe children with autism and their families deserve these services and supports.”
In her new role, Baade said she hopes to remove a feeling of isolation from local families and their children. She wants to be a resource and an advocate for them, helping families to feel confident about the quality of support they receive.
“I want families to know their child can and will learn skills to improve their quality of life and feel embraced within our community,” she said.
Baade and her family reside in Fort Dodge. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 641-355-1306.