Mental Health Specialist Alice Boutz has always had a passion for early childhood and early interventions. “I’ve had two family members that have received early childhood interventions in the Kansas City area,” she said. “After first hearing about Rainbows when I moved to Wichita in 2012, I felt like it was the place I wanted to be. I value the agency’s mission to enhance the lives of children with special needs and their families.”
Alice has a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Services Education from Emporia State University, and a Master’s of Social Work from Wichita State University She is also licensed in the state of Kansas as a master’s social worker (LMSW). “Once I finished graduate school and got some experience in mental health, I was able to start my career at Rainbows,” she said. “I’m constantly seeking learning opportunities to further my knowledge of early childhood development and mental health.”
Before joining Rainbows, Alice worked as a case manager in child welfare and a mental health therapist for children and families at St. Francis Community Services. “Through my previous experience in working with older children ages 5-18, I observed that a lot of children were never taught basic social and emotional skills,” said Alice. “This leads to my biggest achievement which is being able to help children and families build social and emotional skills such as communication, healthy coping, resilience, and reinforcing their decision to reach out when needed”.
As a Rainbows’ Mental Health Specialist, Alice provides individual therapeutic interventions with children in community child care centers, and in family homes with their caregivers. She also provides therapeutic interventions with individual children at Rainbows with kids attending the early care and education center. These interventions include teaching children about emotions and healthy ways to manage emotions, reducing interfering behaviors, and building social skills. About twice a month Alice also participates in Screen for Success, screening children for the need for mental health services.
“One of my favorite parts of every week is facilitating social and emotional circle times to the pre-k rooms, here at Rainbows’ Kids’ Point,” she said. “During these times I am able to read books or facilitate activities with children and teachers to build skills.
“One of my favorite memories while working at Rainbows has been being able to help individual children and families through difficult situations and challenging behaviors,” said Alice. “An example of this is a specific family I recently worked with where the child was not bonding with his new sibling and having difficulties safely expressing his emotions. I worked with this child at his daycare and communicated with mom weekly. Through our time together this child has taken an interest in his sibling and was able to not only communicate how he was feeling, but also able to calm himself down on his own.”
Another favorite part of her job at Rainbows is being part of the “Mentals” team. “I know I can always count on the people I work with to answer questions and talk through tough situations,” said Alice. “I know the mental health team members all work hard to provide child centered mental health services. Having an amazing supervisor that pushes me to think critically and supports me adds to why I love this job so much.”
“Alice is a shining example of Rainbows’ Guiding Principles in action,” said Mental Health Coordinator Audra Kenneson. “Blending humor and hard work she has found a way to deal with difficult situations, grow her skill set, and make important connections with children and their parents. We are fortunate to have her on Rainbows’ Early Childhood Mental Health team.”
In 2020, Alice and her husband became foster parents for the first time and are experiencing the joys of parenthood. “It’s exhausting,” laughed Alice, “and completely wonderful.” In her free time, Alice loves traveling and spending time with her husband Eric and her dog, Daisy, as well as the rest of her family. She also has a passion for volunteer work and is currently volunteering as the Mental Health Coordinator for Camp Hope, a summer camp for children that have or have/had cancer. “Each summer when I spend a week at Camp Hope, I am reminded why early childhood mental health is so important and I am fueled to strive to best meet the needs of the children and families I serve at Rainbows,” said Alice.