Where All Children Can Reach Their Potential
While nothing can take the place of being there, for now, the therapist-patient bonds of United Services for Children are held together through face time on the computer. “Since some of the children we serve have compromised immune systems, we probably will need to continue tele-services for several more months,” says Raymond Castile, Marketing Director of United Services for Children. The nonprofit, which provides therapy and early intervention services for developmentally disabled or delayed children from birth through age 8, is a recent recipient of a YouthBridge YEP grant.
This public health crisis is a first, but United Services for Children is no stranger to change. “As we’ve learned more about the brain and disorders such as autism over the years, we’ve adapted our therapies and parental supports. We’ve also continued to grow in order to be a leader in preparing children of all abilities to reach their full potential.”
With very little services available to children with disabilities, in the mid 70s, a group of parents and professionals organized an agency funded by the United Cerebral Palsy Association and St. Louis Hearing and Speech. It would become known as United Services for Children and receive its nonprofit status in 1977. Today, the organization provides a full spectrum of programming for about 275 children a year, individualized to each child, and delivered through one-on-one and group sessions.
Early intervention classes, designed for children 18 – 36 months, encourage development of age-appropriate social skills and prepare children for classroom learning and routines. Therapies, which can begin at birth, help develop gross and fine motor skills, speech/language skills and eye-hand coordination; improve mobility and balance; and decrease challenging behaviors. Parents receive education and training in building on therapeutic activities at home and in dealing with behavior issues – one of the most difficult aspects of developmental disorders, says Castile.
“Many parents come to us worried that their dreams for their child will not come true – that they won’t be able to share milestones such as high school graduation, marriage, starting a career,” he says. “But as we’re able to break through to their child, they begin to have hope for the future.” In his eight years with the organization, Castile has witnessed some pretty extraordinary successes, he says. “Children able to walk after only crawling, hold eye contact, hug their parents, tell them they love them for the first time…it’s powerful stuff.”
And, it’s this strength and resilience that will carry the team through these uncertain times, he says. “Our kids show incredible determination, and if we learn anything from them, it’s that there is always a way.”
If you would like to donate or have any questions about this organization, please contact Allison McDonald.