We are incredibly thankful to FREE GEEK who granted Innovative 50 refurbished PCs (count them, 50!). We received delivery of the units on Tuesday, November 28th and we are very excited to have replacements for many of the computers in our building that are 10+ years old. The new hardware will allow us to speed up our processes and make us more efficient. Thank you FREE GEEK!
Andrea has been a participant in Innovative’s Employment Services program for almost six years, volunteering at several businesses here in Vancouver to gain on-the-job experience during her time with the program. She has cerebral palsy and paraplegia, limiting her mobility and independence. At one time Andrea had a power chair, but over time and daily use it broke down. The cost of a new chair was high, so Andrea switched to a manual wheelchair that she had been using since she started with Innovative. Her Job Coach, Nicole, shared, “It negatively impacted her pathway to employment because it often made working at her volunteer sites more difficult; she required my assistance with many of her tasks.” Because the manual chair limited the experience that Andrea gained, Nicole, and Christy, another Employment Services Job Coach, successfully advocated through the Developmental Disabilities Administration to provide Andrea with a new power chair, which she started using just one month ago.
Andrea and the Employment Services team are excited at the possibilities that this new power chair has afforded her.“It’s had a huge impact on Andrea’s confidence and self-esteem. People often forget that successful employment is easier to obtain when you feel confident in your abilities,” Nicole shared. Andrea is soon adding new tasks to her volunteer position at Habitat for Humanity and will be learning how to navigate the sales floor in her new power chair. She hopes to take on more responsibilities with her new-found independence, and eventually, transition to paid employment.
Everett started utilizing Innovative’s Pediatric Therapy Program for Early Intervention services at at age 2 1/2. He was challenged with sensory issues, which contributed to speech and adaptive skill delays. He received services from Innovative for two and a half years. His Occupational Therapist, Julie, shared, “Everett seemed to take the therapy and run with it, and he made amazing gains over time. His family was very supportive and helped implement therapy in the home each day.”
Everett distinctly remembers the first time a teacher complimented him for being a good student. Now, he’s a senior in high school and is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist. The award is given to the nation’s top 1% of high school students based on standardized test scores. He has returned to Innovative, but this time, he’s here to volunteer. He hopes to support the program that he says has helped make him so successful. “My goal for my senior project is to give back in any way that I can to the Center. Innovative, and specifically its therapists, has done so much for me in equipping me for success in my younger years, in the present time, and in years to come.”
Everett is volunteering weekly, aiding wherever he can during therapy sessions or with administrative work. We’re truly grateful for his partnership and dedication to our mission!
“Three years ago when we came to the United States, I had just finished my Master’s Degree in Education Psychology. When we got here, I wanted to volunteer somewhere related to my studies. It was absolutely my luck that I found Innovative.”
Arezoo started as a volunteer in our Early Learning program over two years ago. She’s now a full time employee, and works as an Assistant Teacher in the program. Last September, she enrolled her daughter, Kajal, in Innovative’s free preschool program for eligible children and their families, ECEAP*. Kajal has really improved in her ability to speak the English language since coming to Innovative, taking her mom by surprise when she uttered three sentences, in English, without hesitation — something she had never done before. Her teacher, Lynn, and the staff focus on each child’s individual needs and have also worked with Kajal on improving her patience and advancing her math skills. Arezoo shared, “It’s a great team, they work very hard with kids in all aspects of their education.”
Arezoo knows that her daughter is getting the most out of her education at Innovative, “They are great, specifically Lynn, her teacher, who has 20 years of experience. I’m very happy that Kajal is in good hands,” Arezoo said.
Kajal seems to love coming to school every day. When we asked her what her favorite part of preschool is, she giggled and replied,“All of the parts!”
*Innovative’s Early Learning and Child Care program offers ECEAP in 4 of our 7 classrooms. The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) is a free preschool program for eligible children and their families. ECEAP focuses on the well-being of the whole child by providing nutrition, health, education and family support services. The goal of ECEAP is to help all children enter kindergarten ready to succeed. Click here to learn more.
We’re proud to announce a $15,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente for the Positive Behavior Support in Early Childhood Project. This project will provide services to children with extreme behaviors, whether due to developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or to the environmental risk factors such as homelessness, chemical dependency, CPS involvement, incarcerated parents, or foster care. The project spans two of our program areas including:
- Our Pediatric Therapy program providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or other developmental disabilities/delays, particularly those on Medicaid
- Our Early Learning program providing ABA-related techniques in an educational setting for at-risk, low-income, behaviorally challenged children
ABA studies the behavior of a child in order to apply interventions that help bring about meaningful and positive change in the child’s socially significant behaviors including academics, social skills, reading, communication, and adaptive living skills. ABA is now considered to be at the forefront of therapeutic and educational interventions for children with ASD, endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The availability of an effective treatment for ASD is especially important since a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 1 in 68 children has ASD.
Extreme behaviors are disruptive in a variety of situations but particularly in an educational setting for both the child and for other children in the environment. The future educational outcomes for these children will greatly benefit from intervening early, with these best practice techniques, to improve socially significant behaviors.
Thank you to Kaiser Permanente!
We are also pleased to announce a $2,000 grant from Clark County Realtors Foundation to help us fund this important project.
Innovative is continuing to pursue all funding opportunities to raise the remaining $66,000 needed to fund the first year of this important project.
Our Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Dena Strong has been selected to be Innovative’s new CEO, beginning January 1, 2018. The board began their search for a new CEO in the spring. After reviewing eight candidates, the board unanimously selected Dena, with her experience in business strategy, executive management, and organizational leadership and efficiencies to lead this 54-year-old nonprofit into the future. Dena has been Innovative’s Vice President of Client Services since September of 2016.
Dena has a Bachelor’s Degree from Washington State University in Business Administration. Early in her professional career she worked for fortune 500 companies in retail and banking. She spent 9 years working for a custom manufacturing company with headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, where she held numerous positions, eventually working her way through the ranks to become President and CEO. Dena is married, has three young daughters, and has lived in Clark County her entire life.
Dena will be replacing Launda Carroll, who will be retiring after more than 33 years with the organization. Launda will continue to be available to assist with the leadership transition and other assigned projects until her retirement on June 30, 2018.
Innovative’s Co-Board Chair said, “We all look forward to Dena’s continued growth as a leader in our community and raising awareness of the great services Innovative Services NW provides to Clark County.”
Inclusion Drives Innovation
Congratulations to all the award winners at the Annual Clark County Celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Several of Innovative’s Employment Services participants, including Sherry of MADdogs Hot Dogs and Kevin of MOD Pizza, were nominated for an award for their outstanding work in our community! Marshall’s, an employer that works with Innovative’s Employment Services program, won the award for Small Employer of the Year.
Thank you to the local employers and employment agencies that were honored for their outstanding commitment to employment for all!
Office Moms & Dads Comfort Children as they Transition into Foster Care
There are more than 10,000 children in foster care in Washington State.* The goal of the foster care system is to reunify a child with his or her family, but there are many steps in this process. Innovative’s Supervised Visitation Program helps reunify families involved with the foster care system by providing a safe, neutral environment for them to visit. But long before they attempt to reunify, children must endure the stress of being placed into a foster home.
Being removed from the family home can be one of the most traumatic events in a child’s life. Office Moms and Dads is a nonprofit based here in Vancouver that assists children during what can be some of the most frightening times in their lives. When a child is taken into protective custody, they often must wait between three and five hours for a social worker to locate a foster home for them. That’s where Office Moms and Dads comes in. The volunteers occupy the children during this uncertain time, caring for their needs so that the social worker can focus on finding a foster parent for the child.
*Source: Washington Foster Care and Adoption Guidelines. Retrieved from www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/washington
Supervised Visitation is a program which provides a safe, neutral environment for visits between a non-custodial parent and his/her child(ren) under the supervision of an objective, trained Community Support Specialist (CSS). The CSS stays with the child(ren) the entire time and provides written documentation of the visit while protecting the child(ren) from any form of harm, threat or manipulation. Learn More.
Maddie’s mother, Mari, noticed her daughter seemed to be more picky about eating than other kids her age. Even the sight of oranges would make Maddie gag. It was difficult for their family to go out for meals because she would refuse to eat almost everything on the menu. Like many parents, Mari gave in and allowed Maddie to consume only a handful of foods that she found palatable: apples, bananas, and a few other snacks that primarily consisted of sugary foods with low nutritional value. “It was like she had programmed herself not to like certain foods, even before she had tried them,” Mari shared, “I just didn’t want her to develop unhealthy eating habits.” Lack of nutrients was a major concern, but she was even more worried about the possibility of her daughter developing an eating disorder. Maddie’s doctor referred her to Innovative’s Feeding Therapy program, which helps children who have difficulty eating for physical or psychological reasons.
Speech Language Pathologist, Debra Jablonski, worked with Maddie weekly for three months, and helped her address her reservations about eating certain foods, or even being near them. She helped Maddie desensitize herself to oranges by slowly progressing from being in the same room, to poking the fruit with a toothpick, then touching it with a finger, and eventually to her tongue. This process took about six weeks. Maddie realized that she actually liked the taste of oranges, and now eats them on a regular basis. “Enough exposure to a food they dislike will cause the body to remediate that process of fighting it,” Debra said, “but the key is allowing the child to be in control of the situation, to create a positive experience with food.”
Maddie now brags about all the new foods she’s been eating. Brave enough to eat shrimp (and actually enjoy it!) she’s willing and confident enough to give almost any food a try. She’s even helping her parents prepare meals in the kitchen, taking part-ownership of the process. “She used to get tense around food. Now she’s way more relaxed and open to trying new things,” Mari shared. “It’s been such a relief to our family.”
Innovative’s Pediatric Therapy program provides an array of services including Speech, Occupational, Physical, and Specialty Therapies. We offer services to children who have developmental delays or disabilities as well as other diagnosed conditions. Click here to learn more.
During the month of July, Davidson & Associates Insurance Agency, Inc. pledged to make a donation to Innovative Services NW for each new referral they received. Their final donation was $500! Thank you to Davidson & Associates Insurance and everyone who participated!