USD 475 Infant-Toddler Services empower, educate parents of struggling children

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. — The highly qualified team within Geary County Schools USD 475 Infant-Toddler Services has one primary goal in mind: to empower parents of children ages birth to three years with developmental concerns.

The staff of speech-language pathologists, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, and early childhood special educators work one-on-one with their 120 families to create an Individual Family Service Plan and provide support in the implementation process.

Infant-Toddler Services Speech-Language Pathologist Challey Fullager works at her desk.

“We are very family-focused in the natural environment that’s supporting the child’s struggles and needs in that setting,” said Teri Dohrman, Infant-Toddler Services coordinator, and speech-language pathologist. “We work on what the parents want to focus on. We’re there to help determine that eligibility and help support them and still guide them with our background and training.”

An Infant-Toddler Services employee works at their desk.

Families interested in these services, once determined as eligible, will meet with a provider best suited for the child’s needs in the environment in which the problem occurs, whether that be at home, at a grocery store, at a park, or another location.

“The most important thing that our providers do is empower the parents so that they can carry through with strategies and that they can be early interventionists for their own child,” said Linda Kidd, Infant-Toddler Services program assistant. “That’s why we have a Primary Service Provider model is because we’re not there all the time. Parents are there all the time. That, I think, is why these kids are so successful, because we teach their parents, and then their parents carry that over and they can make that improvement.”

The earlier a delay is determined in a child’s brain, the more successful the child can be, according to Dohrman.

“While the brain is very young, neurologically before it’s all set, the earlier you stimulate the brain during those earlier years, the more progressions their brain is capable of making,” Dohrman said. “There are times that, if we intervene early enough, there’s actually been children who have exited our of our program before they even get to a transition period.”

Additionally, the providers work as family service coordinators, connecting those interested to resources and local organizations to help a variety of needs.

Further information regarding the Infant-Toddler Services can be found here, or by calling (785) 717-4130.

For media inquiries, please contact Lindley Lund, marketing and media specialist for Geary County Schools USD 475, at lindleylund@usd475.org.