Kaitlyn first connected with DLR in November of 2019, as a Senior at Brookings High School. While participating in an internship class, she was doing career exploration and looking for work opportunities in a daycare or childcare setting. She made contact with DLR/DOE Career Advisor Amber Bates who referred her to DLR. Employment Specialist Katie Sieve completed the WIOA eligibility and enrollment process with her. Katie then began with career readiness activities like resume prep, a mock interview, and work search for possible part-time positions after school and weekends.
Kaitlyn was also connected to Voc-Rehab services because of a physical disability. Near the end of her senior year, Kaitlyn applied and was accepted for participation in the 2020/2021 class of Project Search. This program would begin in August on the campus of South Dakota State University. That left her summer open to also complete a DLR-funded 300-hour Work Experience with the Brookings Humane Society. Kaitlyn utilized Supportive Services to purchase scrubs to wear while working with the animals. As her experience at the Humane Society successfully wrapped up, Jesse Enstad became her DLR Employment Specialist.
Kaitlyn then began her Project Search commitment and began work rotations that exposed her to a handful of campus service occupations, however, her long-term employment goal remained to pursue work with childcare or to even own her own daycare. Beyond babysitting, she had limited experience providing childcare and was looking for experience in working with children of various ages including handling multiple infants at a time.
ES Enstad, Kaitlyn and Kyrsten Zimmerman, her Project Search Job Coach, began exploring childcare sites in the community as potential worksites. They felt this would be a good opportunity to test Kaitlyn’s ability to handle the job duties at a childcare center and also a possible future daycare career. Kaitlyn and her team connected with Ruth Rynearson of Peace Lutheran Early Childhood Center in Brookings who was interested in the opportunity. Kaitlyn began a DLR-funded 350-hour Work Experience with Peace Lutheran in January 2021. This was also the final rotation for her Project Search commitment.
Peace Lutheran provided Kaitlyn the exposure to work with the various age groups throughout her work experience. The staff of the center stated early on how they were beyond thrilled with Kaitlyn’s performance and how she was always playing and interacting with the children. Ruth, Kaitlyn’s supervisor at Peace Lutheran, contacted ES Jesse Enstad about a month into the work experience asking what the process would be to end the work experience as they were interested in hiring Kaitlyn as an employee.