The Studio Blog Archive
A few posts we've written over the years
COVID-19 and Infant/Toddler Services
“When he sees her face on the screen, he gets so excited,” said Beckett’s mom, Alli when she talks about the speech therapy he gets by tele-therapy through Rainbows. "Beckett will pull out his toys and talk to Peggy. He likes to hold the phone and engages with Peggy by mimicking her sounds. He will carry the phone around when she is on. It’s like having her in his little hands.”
Josiah, Beckett’s dad, who is now home during the day, usually entertains 6-month old Baker so that Beckett gets the full attention of both his mom and Peggy.
Sometimes the family connects to Skype from their TV and Peggy is able to talk with Beckett and Alli on the big screen. “I appreciate that we can continue to do therapy even while we’re social distancing,” said Alli. “He continues to make progress by making more sounds and more approximations – a big word Peggy uses to describe the sounds that he makes that are almost like words.”
Alli notes that Beckett is much more verbal now at 21-months than when their pediatrician referred him to Rainbows at his 18-month checkup. She says she has learned a lot as well. “I’ve learned to be more engaging with my words and talk to Beckett all the time telling him what’s going on. Peggy gives us ideas for singing songs, and other resources that will help my son to progress,” said Alli.
Alli says the transition from speech therapy in their home to tele-therapy has been a nice alternative. “I’m happy that services were able to continue and Beckett will continue to make progress in his development. I appreciate that Peggy is available to answer my questions on how to handle the isolation as well. We would be disappointed if services would have been canceled due to COVID-19.”
Education supported through video chat, pictures and virtual hugs
As a teacher of three-to-five year-olds at Rainbows’ Early Care and Education Center: Kids’ Point, I try to be prepared for anything. I realize I cannot anticipate every challenge, every opportunity or every individual child’s need, but I know to expect the unexpected.
However, I was not prepared for a global pandemic. In March we look forward to Blarney Breakfast, March Madness basketball, spring weather and fun spring break vacations. The only problem, this year March brought COVID-19.
One month prior, Classroom 6 was full of 18 spunky, energetic, little friends learning new things they would need for Kindergarten readiness. We sang, danced, learned our alphabet and discovered through play, but soon the classroom numbers started to decline. When the Stay-At-Home Order went into effect, the number of children in my classroom was half of the number enrolled.
I understand why, but the classroom wasn’t the same and the friends who were still attending didn’t understand why their friends weren’t coming to school. As teachers, we have children in our care for eight or more hours a day throughout the week. We have a special bond with each and every one of the children. Teachers and classmates were sad because we didn’t know when we were going to see our friends again. Some of the students are set to graduate Pre-K, and they have so much more to learn and discover.
The services Rainbows provides are essential. The families we serve need us and the children need us. The children need to know we, the teachers, are still here to help them understand what’s happening in the world around them. We are committed to helping them understand their emotional and social health during this time. These aspects of life are just as important as eggs, milk, bread and toilet paper.
Rainbows took precautions right away. They ordered new cleaning supplies, canceled all current and future field trips, and added additional cleaning to the classrooms. Then Rainbows took extra precautions by adding hand sanitizers to all the entry doors, posting signs about what to look for, and scheduled deep cleaning twice daily throughout the facility. They limited the amount of people in the building by asking those who can work from home to do so.
I also stepped up my game. In order to keep the stay-at-home children learning and moving forward, I put together an educational packet. The packet was placed in a large envelope and mailed to every one of my students who were learning from home. I remember when I was a kid I loved getting mail and the surprise of opening the envelope to see what’s inside.
The support of the children and families didn’t stop at their learning packets. At least once a week, I take a picture of what we are doing in the classroom and provide a challenge to the stay-at-home kids. Parents immediately started sending me pictures back showing their child had accepted the challenge and achieved what I was asking. I print the pictures off and display them on our bulletin board so everyone can see, remember and feel connected to one another.
One of our classroom’s favorite days is Friday, our Show-n-Tell day. Before COVID-19, we had 18 very different toys we all got to explore and play with. We now sit on the circle carpet and video chat all our stay-at-home friends from our tablet. This gives all of us a chance to see each other and talk about how we are doing. The stay-at-home kids get to participate in Show-n-Tell with their friends in the class.
Classroom 6 will be keeping in touch with each and every one of our friends. We will continue to learn together, share together and know that we are here for each other.
By Miss Autumn, Classroom 6
Children’s Mental Health
Mental illness in children can be hard to recognize, especially with young children. Anxiety is a mental illness that can be overlooked in children, because anxiety can look very different in children than it does in adults. The biggest difference is that most adults are able to express and identify their anxiety, while young children often lack the vocabulary, knowledge, and coping skills to identify the feelings that they are experiencing.
Some of the most common anxiety disorders that affect children are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), and Selective Mutism.
There are many reasons that children experience anxiety. Some examples include significant life changing situations, learned behavior, genetics, and/or brain chemistry.
A child who has anxiety may display symptoms that could include a child’s flight or fight system becoming overactive even though an adult may not believe the behavior is warranted. Their bodies may become shaky and/or they may experience shortness of breath. A child who is experiencing anxiety may act scared or upset, refuse to try things, or will not verbally communicate with adults or peers.
The most common way that anxiety is treated is with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps the child learn coping skills and teaches parents how to identify the triggers in order to help and support the child experiencing anxiety. The learned skills will help parents with responding and reducing their child’s anxiety in a timely manner. The sooner that the child is able to get support and learn coping skills for their anxiety, the sooner a child will be able to thrive and be able to just be a kid again.
Here are some helpful resources about anxiety in children:
By: Carmen Dorton – Mental Health Assistant
And Marissa Palacios-Ontiveros, LMSW, MBA – Mental Health Specialist
Carmen Dorton became a Mental Health Assistant at Rainbows United in November of 2019. Marissa Palacios-Ontiveros, LMSW, MBA became a Mental Health Specialist at Rainbows United in August of 2018. Both staff participate in a partnership between Rainbows’ Early Childhood Mental Health program and TOP (The Opportunity Project) Early Learning Centers where Rainbows provides classroom consultation services for teachers and individual therapeutic services to children and their families.
A Letter from President Deb Voth to Families
In this uncertain time of change and challenges, I want to bring you up-to-date on what Rainbows has done to help protect the children and families we serve as well as our staff. Our Leadership Team is working diligently to keep abreast of the information being shared in so many ways. It is a challenge to keep up with all of it and know what the facts truly are.
Governor Kelly’s Order has 26 exceptions to the “Stay-At-Home” provision for Essential Businesses. The services that Rainbows provides fall within the list of Essential Businesses.
We believed this is how it would be, and frankly, are very relieved that we can continue providing services to children and families and keep our employees working. We are thankful we can carry on – although in a different manner for most programs.
Here is how each of the programs is functioning at this time. Our goal is to limit face-to-face contact in order to help keep children, families and staff safe.
• Early Care and Education Services at Kids’ Point - While the “Stay-at-Home” Order restricts group gatherings to 10 people or less, we have received clarification from Sedgwick County Health Department and Kansas Department of Health and Environment that the restriction to 10 people in child care settings “does not apply to licensed child care facilities”. We are to follow what our license states. Therefore, we will continue to provide early care and education as long as possible.
• Autism Services – Autism services continue one-on-one at Kids’ Point and in the family home.
• Mental Health Services - All but one of our Mental Health staff are working remotely. They are calling on families with whom they work and providing tele-therapy via technology. One of our Mental Health Assistants continues working with children in our Early Care and Education Center at Kids’ Point.
• Community Based Education and Training Services - These therapists and teacher are working remotely by calling families and providing tele-therapy for the children.
• Targeted Case Management - All but one of the TCM staff are working remotely. Some of the federal and state regulations have been “loosened” which allows TCMs to do a lot of their work on the phone for their families instead of doing it face-to-face.
• Specialized Foster Care - Staff in this program are calling and checking on these families remotely.
• Bright Beginnings Infant/Toddler Services in Butler County – All of these staff are working remotely. Staff are calling families and doing tele-therapy via technology.
• Infant/Toddler Services of Sedgwick County – All of these staff are working remotely. They, too, are calling families and providing tele-therapy via technology.
• Family Support Services – All of our Direct Service Professionals are working in individual family homes in order to provide care needed by our families. Families need this help even more due to children not being in school. We are trying to limit the number of staff who are going into each individual family home. At this time, we are not having center-based services at Kids’ Cove. We continue to hire staff for this program. Five of the staff are working in the office taking phone calls and scheduling care for families. Their work stations have been distanced from each other.
• Camp Woodchuck – We are still hiring staff for Camp Woodchuck this summer and taking applications from families. We are hopeful we will be able to still provide this much needed program.
Because of the population Rainbows serves, we are required to continue programs in almost every department regardless of what is going on around us. These requirements stem from numerous governmental entities including Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Federal Department of Education, Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Access to facilities is limited. Currently we are not having volunteers onsite and no community tours are being given. We have mounted more hand sanitizing stations in all three of our facilities. Sanitizing of surfaces has increased. We take the health and safety of each and every family seriously and are taking precautions that we can.
How can you help?
• Tele-therapy helps Rainbows reach our funding requirements. If you have suspended tele-therapy for your child under five, consider asking about starting these services so your child can continue making developmental progress. We really need your help with this.
• Continue to communicate with your provider or therapist during this time. We want to help your family by being available, being a listening ear, and helping to get you connected to the services you need during this time.
• If someone in your family is sick and you receive services in your home or your child attends Early Care and Education at Kids' Point, please cancel services with your in-home provider or keep your child home from Early Care and Education at Kids' Point until individuals in your home are well. We want to do our best to keep you and our staff healthy.
• Support Rainbows through a financial gift if you can. The transition of services to online and having employees work remotely comes at a price. Every donation matters. Give online at RainbowsUnited.org.
Thank you for your flexibility and understanding as we work in the current situation and use new procedures with the safety of your family and our staff in mind.
Deb Voth, President