Katherine Backus, who goes by Katie, is a top preforming Life Coach 12. Katie was the November 2023 NADSP E-Badge Academy Earner of the Month! She was one of our first recipients of the S’Happening Awards, an award celebrating her superior performance and exemplifying Delarc’s six Unifying Principles: Those We Serve Come First, Commit To Excellence, Be Dedicated, Employee Satisfaction, Communicate Effectively, and Be Innovative.


Katie has mastered Delarc’s Unifying Principles over the last, almost 15 years. Prior to coming to work for Delarc, Katie went to college with the focus in elementary education. She initially wanted to become a schoolteacher, but decided it wasn’t the right fit. She then went to cosmetology school and worked with hair, as well as tended bar. After time spent in those fields, she decided to move on and apply in the human services field.


Katie was not too familiar with the human service field, but an encouraging push from her friend’s mother led her to apply. Katie would spend time in high school with her friend’s autistic brother. It was the bond she built with him that led his mother, Mrs. Breese, to encourage her to look into going into the Human Services field, stating, “This is the field you were made for. I don’t know what you’re doing, but you are so good with Zach, this is what you were made for.” Katie hadn’t been aware that there was a field for helping people with developmental disabilities live their best lives. Unsure of the Human Services field, she decided to look into it further and apply.


She initially worked at a different agency for one summer before applying to Delarc. Her first day at Delarc’s day program was an eye-opening experience for such a different way of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Katie had started her career as a Life Coach 3, working in the classrooms and has received many promotions in her 15-year career with Delarc.  After three years she was promoted to Life Coach 7 which supports people to utilize and enjoy their community.  As time passed, a couple employees were getting ready to retire from the Respite program. Katie worked with the Respite team, taking over responsibilities as they prepared for retirement. She was then promoted to Life Coach 10, while still engaged in the Respite program.  After a period of time, she advanced again to her current position of Life Coach 12 in the Community Networks program.


The Community Networks program consists of the following:

Respite– Respite provides relief to primary caregivers, while also giving their loved ones the opportunity to participate in a variety of recreational activities and events in their communities with the support of respite staff.

Community Hab– Community Habilitation supports people in their homes and communities to work on any goals they may want to achieve. People can have a wide variety of goals they might want to work on. Anything from being a better parent, budgeting money, making friends… anything you can think of.

Supportive Employment– Supportive Employment supports people who are employed and need some support learning different aspects of their job.

Transition Services– Transition Services are provided to kids still in school. Transition helps kids decide what they want their life to look like after high school (whether it be college, entering the workforce, or looking into other options) and helps the student come up with a plan on how to get there.

Community Prevoc– Supports people who would like to enter the workforce but have a few goals they would like to meet or skills they would like to work on before applying for jobs.

Respite group enjoying a trip to the Northeast Classic Car Museum.


When asked what position Katie liked the most, she stated that she feels most passionate in her current Life Coach 12 position. She truly enjoys helping people to go out and live life to their fullest. The next step up in the career ladder would be a program director, however she feels her passions and abilities are best suited for her current role.


Delarc encourages employees to excel and grow within the agency. Each person meets with their supervisor to discuss their coaching plan. Katie spent time to reflect on the areas she excelled as well as how to develop the skills needed to advance.


Throughout her 15 years at Delarc, Katie has made several heartwarming memories. She stated that any time spent with the Respite group is always a fun time. The Respite group consists of people who have been attending Delarc for years. They are a group of lifelong friends, getting a chance to hang out in the community or cooking and enjoying a meal together.


“Anytime the Respite group goes anywhere, it’s a good time. It’s a group of friends who have a good time. There’s no pressure, there’s no goals, it’s just friends who have done it for a long time. They’re so kind and welcoming to everybody. Anytime I get to do anything with Respite, I love it.” -Katie


One of her favorite memories was helping one gentleman make his wish come true of driving in the derby, she stated how happy it made him. Another favorite memory of hers is when someone that she would support, through SEMP, would finally get the courage to quit the job that they had been working at for years, in order to apply for the job they truly wanted. For example, one person was working at a grocery store for years but had always wanted to work at the Family Dollar. When that person finally built up the courage to quit, they were beside themselves when they were hired to work at the Family Dollar.


“We’re really getting into some exciting stuff now. People are apartment hunting and working on learning more about sex and having relationships. There’s a wide variety of things that people are learning about now, all good stuff. It’s really exciting.”- Katie.


Katie loves her career a Delarc. A word of advice she wants to share with anyone looking to apply.


“Don’t be intimidated by the job descriptions. When I first applied, I read some of the job descriptions and I thought, ‘I don’t think I fit that,’ or ‘I don’t think I qualify.’ Don’t let that scare you. People who have never done anything like this before, come in and learn from Delarc and grow. Delarc has a really great system and mission and does things really well.”-Katie


If you or someone you know are looking for a rewarding career in the Human Services field, please click the link below and apply today!