Employee Spotlight: Kevin Bako, Case Management Supervisor
Kevin Bako recently joined our Berryville team as Case Management Supervisor, replacing long-time employee Abdus Samad, who is now leading operations at our new location in Minnesota. Kevin joined Grafton’s Winchester team in 2016 and is thrilled to step into his new role!
What drew you to work in behavioral healthcare?
In 2005, I was pursuing my bachelor’s in Psychology at George Mason. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after graduation, but I was leaning toward education. At that time, information about autism wasn’t as widespread as it is now. The first time I really learned about it was in one of my psychology courses, and I found it fascinating. I ran out and bought a bunch of books about autism to learn everything I could. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What led you to Grafton?
After graduating college, I worked as a Special Education Teacher at a private day school in Manassas, Virginia, for about seven years. I received training to be a Qualified Mental Health Professional-Child (QMHP-C) and, in 2013, I accepted a job as a Therapeutic Day Treatment (TDT) Counselor at a behavioral health company in Winchester. While I was there, one of my coworkers left to work as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) at Grafton. She contacted me and said that Grafton had more job openings, so I decided to apply as well. I was hired, and I’ve been here since July of 2016.
What positions have you held at Grafton?
One of the great things about Grafton is the ability to move up within the company. They definitely promote from within and will help you succeed however they can. I started out as an RBT doing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) outreach. About a year later, two of my supervisors encouraged me to apply to a Case Management position that was opening up. I got that job and worked as a Case Manager at the Winchester campus for about four years. This summer, I was contacted about the Case Management Supervisor position in Berryville. I’ve had this job for about three months. I love it, and I love the Berryville team that I work with.
What’s it like working as a Case Management Supervisor?
This job gives me the opportunity to use all my education, training, and experience from working in the Case Management Department in Winchester to make a difference within the program here.
In Case Management, you’re still pretty hands on, but you also get a broader picture of what goes into each client’s case. I get to see why we’re doing the monthly treatment plans and why they’re important. We have our hands in the residential, academic, clinical, and medical, which allows us to work as a broad team for every client that we serve. As a case manager, you see behind the scenes, and it’s really cool.
What makes Grafton a special place to work?
It doesn’t matter what someone’s title or position is—people want to help and support each other. I can go to just about anyone for advice. In my new position, I can still consult with Abdus, who had this position before me, or Dave, who was my supervisor in Winchester. If there’s a crisis, you see everyone come to help. That’s very rare, especially in this field.
How has Grafton helped you reach your educational goals?
Everyone was incredibly supportive and encouraging as I completed my master’s degree in Psychology and my postgraduate coursework towards becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). I was even able to complete the 1,500 supervision hours that I needed for my BCBA certification while working here. Typically, you have to pay at least $100 an hour to do supervision hours with a BCBA. That really adds up. Thanks to my job at Grafton, I was actually getting paid while doing those hours—not the other way around.
Grafton has an amazing tuition reimbursement program too. When I joined in 2016, they started covering the cost of my master’s degree tuition. More recently, the program covered 100% of my BCBA coursework through Florida Institute of Technology. Grafton made it possible for me to complete all of that education without taking any loans. That’s huge. Things like that make me proud to be here. When a company does something like that, you understand why people want to stay 20 and 30 and 40 years.
Do you have a favorite story from your time at Grafton?
Yes. One of the proudest moments in my career happened when I was doing ABA outreach at Grafton, working with clients in their homes. We got a referral for a 3-year-old boy with autism. He had no communication, play, or social skills. When we went to observe him, he sat in the corner and threw toys from one end of the room to the other. When he needed something, he would pull on his family members’ clothes or just scream and cry.
After working 15 hours a week with him for about a year, the progress was amazing. He was able to say his grandma’s name, his aunt’s name, and his mom’s name. He was able to ask for certain treats and foods. And he had appropriate play skills and social skills. I’ll never forget seeing the tears of joy in his family members’ eyes when I would point and say, “Who is this?”—and he could say their names.
The boy is 7 or 8 now, and his family has continued to keep in touch with me. He’s in regular public school, and he talks up a storm. He’s a happy, social butterfly. He goes to lunch and recess with all of his classmates, and he’s thriving. I’m so proud of him. That’s why I continue to do what I do. Teaching that little boy those skills and helping him along his way—that’s why we’re here.
What’s next for you at Grafton?
I’m going to be sitting for my BCBA certification exam soon. Going forward, I want to use that certification to build motivation within the organization. I want to encourage new employees to come here and motivate current employees to stay. Amazon has been hiring BCBAs for a long time to increase productivity, creativity and boost morale, and I believe I can help do the same thing at Grafton.
After all the opportunities that Grafton has given me, I know I’m going to be one of those people that is here for decades. I want to use my skills to help the company continue to be successful and a great place to work.
Interested in joining Grafton’s team? View our current job openings!