The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years


Jamee Funk, Rainbows' Infant/Toddler Services

‘You’re not alone’ and I’m still here to give you support

As a Physical Therapist with Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services, Jamee Funk normally sees between 4-7 families a day. She works with families in their homes and sometimes daycare facilities, teaching and coaching family members how to help their child in a playful manner. 

During COVID-19, Rainbows continues to provide services to children with special needs and their families.  Right now, it just looks a little different. Jamee now works with her families via tele-therapy.  “I am still teaching and coaching families, helping them help their child achieve milestones,” said Jamee.  “I see everything on the screen and offer professional recommendations, guidance and suggestions to the family member working with their child.”

“Tele-therapy has given me the opportunity to be more specific and detailed with my recommendations,” said Jamee. “Tele-therapy reinforces the Rainbows’ model of therapy.  As therapists, we Coach.  We don’t Do. I love seeing parents connect with their kids. I like telling parents, ‘You could be a PT! You’re doing wonderful with that .....’ I just helped them help their child. It’s pretty awesome.”

Jamee joined Rainbows 4 years ago.  She has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Wichita State University.  “I worked at a small rural hospital for two years before I came here,” said Jamee.  “I worked in acute care, long term care, home health, and outpatient therapy. I enjoyed working with people young and old but the kiddos were my favorite population to work with.”

“My last school clinical rotation was with Rainbows’ therapist Pam Chiles in Infant/ Toddler Services,” said Jamee. “I wanted to help families help their children. The relationships I saw between Pam and her clients were something I wanted with my future clients.” 

“Sometimes a tele-therapy call is not a coaching moment, but a check-in to say ‘You’re not alone’ and I’m still here to give you support,” said Jamee.  “I try every day to spread kindness and silliness to my coworkers and the families I work with. If I can help my families help their kids by increasing their confidence in playing with and caring for their child and his or her needs, I’m having a good day.” 

“Jamee Funk is an amazing physical therapist, an even better early interventionist and one of the best Primary Service Providers I can think of,” said Alexia Foster, Infant/Toddler Services Coordinator.  “Her calm demeanor and her commitment to listening mean that the children on her caseload make progress because Jamee has built the capacity of parents to meet their child’s needs.  She makes a difference for kids because she listens to parents first.”

While temporarily working from home, Jamee is also homeschooling her 4 and 7-year- old children. Going outside and watching the kids play is one of the ways she takes care of herself. “Crafting is an outlet of mine. I make shirts and signs. I do some painting. I want to learn to make furniture,” she said.

Jamee also belongs to Bayneville Grange #1810, a nonprofit, rural organization. “We do many community service projects including making weighted blankets for children in Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services,” she said. “My parents have sewn most of the blankets. We’ve made over 60 blankets the past 3 years. Each blanket takes about 6 hours from start to finish.” 

Mental Health Awareness Month

It is an honor to be trusted to help the children and families we serve

Last year Rainbows' Mental Health team provided services to 475 children and their families. This amazing group of professionals work with children birth to 5 years old in their homes, early childhood education centers and child care programs.  Rainbows is proud to recognize them during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Some time ago, one of the members of our Mental Health team found an analogy about what it is like to seek therapeutic help and she brought it to our team. As a group the analogy spoke to our lived experiences and we liked it.

The story was first posted by Tumblr user @centrumlumina. This is what they wrote.

Here’s a thought I had about how therapy and treatment works (vs how many people imagine it works). 

Imagine you have to take a road trip on a deserted road alone.  Halfway through your trip, your engine starts to sputter and the car breaks down.  What do you do?

A lot of people think that therapy/treatment is like calling a mechanic to come and fix your car for you.  You make the call, and then you just wait around until the mechanic has fixed the problem.  Your car is good as new!  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that with therapy.  There is no “on-call mechanic”.  No one is able to fix this car except you.

Instead, it’s like you pull a toolbox out of your trunk, pop open the hood, and dial up the mechanic on the phone.  You have to try and describe the problems as clearly as possible, and follow the advice they give you as well as you can.

Sometimes, you won’t understand the advice, and you’ll need them to explain it again – or suggest something else.  Sometimes, you’ll do what they say and it still won’t run.  And they won’t be able to explain why.  They’ll just give you something new to try.  Sometimes, you’ll think you fixed the problem and start driving.  But the car breaks down two minutes down the road.  No matter what happens, it’s going to be hard and messy and frustrating work. 

BUT at the end of it, not only will your car be running again – you’ll know how to fix it now.  Which isn’t to say that you’ll never need another mechanic ever again.  But the next time you get stuck, it will be easier to handle.

It is not uncommon for us to go to a therapist with an expectation that they will have a magic wand, a sage piece of advice, or a special book that will speak to us in hopes that our troubles may dissipate with a session or two or three.

In order for a therapist to help us see improvement in our situation, we have to be able to accurately and truthfully verbalize our story. That may mean that we have to dig deep and disclose information about our past or present situation that may be difficult to discuss with a person who is new to our world. Having faith in a therapist can be quite difficult when you know you have to talk about something that you work hard to not think about in your day-to-day world. But much like the mechanic in the analogy above, without knowing the full and honest description, any help they can give will likely not have a true and lasting impact.

As the Rainbows’ Mental Health team goes about their work with young children and their families or teachers, they work to build relationships with those individuals served. Through that rapport building, we hope that we are able to build a trusting relationship that will allow for accurate and honest discussion about what needs our young clients have so we are able to best help them and the adults who care for them.

Each member of our Mental Health team believes it is an honor to be trusted to help the children and families we serve. Thank you for trusting us in return as we help you and your child.

Should you have questions or want to seek services from Rainbows’ Early Childhood Mental Health Services you can call 316.558.3420 or email akenneson@rui.org.

By Audra Kenneson, LMSW – Mental Health Coordinator & Specialized Foster Care Coordinator

Working from home during the Pandemic

Routine and gratitude are keys to the New Normal

Before the pandemic, my workday started at 5:45 a.m. with coffee, cat feeding, shower, clothes and a mad dash to the garage. After commuting 75 minutes, I spent my day processing claims and credentialing, laughing with co-workers and smiling at our beloved clients and their teachers. Another 75-minute drive home, dinner and housework, and then I fell into bed, exhausted.

The last time I did that was March 23. Then COVID-19 came to Kansas and I went home.

First of all, I am so blessed to be able to work from home. But really, I sit in front of a computer all day at work, so nothing has changed. My day starts at 8 a.m. now. I share coffee and conversation with the Hubster, then shower and put on comfy clothes. Work usually starts around 9 a.m. and lasts until at least 6 p.m. When I’m not working, we like to watch old movies, cook together, attend drive-in church and take rides in the countryside. Frequent telephone and video chats with our daughters have been so special. 

Non-negotiable daily necessities to work from home are:
1. Snacks 
2. Sunshine 
3. Laughs 
4. Connections

The easiest part of my new normal is the work. I am able to do everything I did from the office with very few hiccups. Rainbows’ IT team (Tina and Taylor) have been helpful, as well as my beloved Finance Team, whom I email multiple times daily. The Hubster, a retired IT consultant, is always close by to lend a hand, too. What you may not know about me is that I managed a successful home-based business for 18 years before coming to Rainbows. 

In March, I was in pure survival mode. We got the home office set up and I started work. The hardest part was feeding ourselves and acquiring paper products. Ahem.

Developing a new routine in April kept me busy and I settled in. Some workdays raced by, while others plodded along. I found myself putting in longer hours and taking fewer breaks. By the end of the month, I was feeling pretty burned out.

May brought fresh resolutions. I am working on keeping my perspective realistic, my expectations achievable and my stress manageable. That last one is a bit of a pest, I’m afraid. My plate is full of work, household chores, helping my elderly mom and lack of motivation for much else. 

In the future, I hope for lots of party planning (when it’s safe), meals with family and friends and travel to visit our sweet kids, who live in North Carolina and Texas. Hope is vital for successful self-isolation.

I compare working from home to the opening lines of a favorite novel, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens) Health and safety restrictions will ease and one day soon, I will return to that whimsical building on North Oliver Street, grateful for two things: Time to reconnect at home and returning to a great job at Rainbows United.

By Carol Martin, Rainbows United, Inc. Finance Department

Providing audiology services during a pandemic is a challenge, but Rainbows has adapted.

Patrick Washington, Audiologist

At a very young age, Patrick Washington suffered hearing loss as a result of a slap from an abusive babysitter.  It wasn’t until a routine kindergarten screening that torn hearing and balance nerves were diagnosed.  By Second Grade, Patrick had decided to become an Ear Doctor, or Audiologist.

Patrick joined Rainbows in March of 2019. He received his Doctorate of Audiology at Wichita State University in 2014 and is clinically certified through the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). He has been practicing as an Audiologist for 5 years.

“One of my favorite parts of my job is having the opportunity to educate or support families about the health of the ear or hearing loss,” said Patrick, Rainbows’ Early Intervention Audiologist. "Because of the physical development of the ear, children 0-3 years may already be at risk for ear infections or build up of fluid. I try to educate parents and provide knowledge of what to look for with their child.  I want parents to be informed and have the best education possible so they are comfortable and confident knowing the proper questions to ask their doctors.”

“Patrick Washington has a passion for educating people about hearing loss,” said Alexia Foster, Infant/Toddler Services Coordinator.  “This is evident in the way he interacts with families and with co-workers.  He takes time to explain in detail all aspects of hearing loss to ensure that the listener, whether a parent or a staff member, walks away with knowledge and an increased confidence in their understanding of hearing loss.”

With infants and toddlers, Patrick uses a combination of tools to help assess hearing health. "I employ screening protocols when testing a young child at home. When testing a child in our audiology booth, I employ a behavior evaluation while using visual observation at the same time. I present different intensities of tones and watch for the child’s reaction/response. Sometimes the child will behaviorally respond differently, such as turning their head, widening their eyes, laughing or crying. When the child reacts, I follow with positive reinforcement."

When evaluating the health of the ear, Patrick uses instruments that measure the functionality of the eardrum and lets him know if the cochlea is healthy. He checks to make sure nothing is in the ear canal, there is no fluid behind the ear drum and there is no infection. Ear tubes are one of the most important, most asked about issues for parents.  “I provide education and support for families, explaining the process, what to expect, and how tubes are involved in ear health.”

Patrick also educates and coaches parents whose children have hearing devices, helping them overcome even the “little things” like helping their child keep the device in his ear. “I enjoy hearing from my co-workers that their families really appreciate the time and effort I give to help their families understand about hearing health and what I can provide for them during their Rainbows’ journey,” he said. “Also, I love working with the other therapists and learning about their professional expertise, which helps me become a better provider.”

“This morning I held a phone appointment with Mr. Patrick and one of my families to address parental concerns with their child’s mapping appointment being deemed a nonessential service and the child’s new behavior of not wanting to wear implants,” said Kelly Welch, Speech Language Pathologist. “I am so thankful that Rainbows invited Patrick to our team. His calm demeanor, patience, ability to carefully listen to parents, and ability to turn a negative situation into a positive experience for both the child and parents is a beautiful thing to witness. He has a way of saying what needs to be said, yet delivering it in a way that is easy to hear.”

Providing audiology services during a pandemic is a challenge, but Rainbows has adapted. “Currently I am providing services to our hearing impaired children through Skype or phone calls,” said Patrick. “I also provide support (through Skype/phone calls) with our other families if they have questions regarding hearing or ear health.”

Patrick and his twin brother were born and raised by their mother here in Wichita. “I love going to movies, exercise and do dance choreography to hip hop and pop music,” said Patrick. “I am a 90s kid, so many of my coworkers will see me wearing 90s cartoons t-shirts. I am big WWE fan and love watching Spurs and Shockers basketball.”