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KidSCope offers services to meet mental health needs of children

By Linda Foxworth
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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Siler City, NC - As difficult as it is to imagine, children as young as 2 or 3 years old may have depression or anxiety. In fact, it is estimated that between nine percent and fourteen percent of children from birth to five years of age experience social and emotional problems that negatively affect their functioning and development. The numbers for developmental disabilities are equally staggering. The N.C. Autism Society estimates that one out of every 110 children born today has some form of autism spectrum disorder.

The good news is that if caught early, all of these conditions can become manageable, quality of life can be improved and worsening of symptoms may be averted. Often these challenging issues are first noticed by teachers or health care providers. Other times, parents approach these same professionals to express concern and to request guidance. To respond properly, early-childhood professionals must remain educated about new developments in the treatment of children with mental and developmental disabilities.

Research shows that families in need do better when they are served by a team of professionals comprised of the child’s teacher and pediatrician; an early-intervention or mental health service provider; and occupational, physical or speech therapists who work together to develop and implement an intervention plan to address the child’s needs.
That’s where a program like KidSCope fits in.

The Orange County-based program offers a range of services to improve the lives of children who have or may be at risk of having a mental or developmental disability. In addition to providing direct services, KidSCope teaches others on the front lines how to recognize mental health issues or developmental disabilities and how to work with children and their families who come to them for services. On average, KidSCope staff works with 600 children and service providers each year in both Orange and Chatham counties.

To stay abreast of best-practice information, staff of the KidSCope program hosts and participates in ongoing professional development. One such experience so far in 2011 was a three-part training series focused on autism early intervention led by John Thomas, training consultant with the N.C. Autism Society. The event exposed attendees to the Early Start Denver Model of intervention, now widely considered one of the best research-based models.
Alyce Anderson, an itinerant preschool teacher with Chatham County Schools, attended the training sessions. She works in the homes or preschool settings of special-needs children who have individualized education plans. Trained to be an educator, not a mental health care worker, she has come to rely on the technical assistance KidSCope provides.

“I took the training because I have several children who are either officially diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum or who will get the diagnosis in the future, and I sometimes struggle with how to serve them,” Anderson says. “I need training and ideas on how to effectively serve these children.”

KidSCope also runs two inclusive five-star development day programs – the Children’s Learning Center in Hillsborough and the Chatham Child Development Center in Siler City. The two programs are certified developmental day programs that serve children who are typically developing alongside children with identified social/emotional or developmental disabilities in a 50/50 model.

Linda Foxworth is the director of KidSCope.

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KidSCope offers services to meet mental health needs of children

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