Operated by Children’s Hospital Colorado, KidStreet is a unique rehabilitative care facility for children ages 6 weeks to 4 years who have complex medical needs – children like 1-year-old Holly who has spinal muscular atrophy and 2-year-old Casper whose body does not produce the neurotransmitters necessary for normal brain function. At KidStreet, these children can get the personalized care they need to help them thrive – care that would never be possible in a traditional daycare or preschool setting.
Located in east Denver, KidStreet offers an interdisciplinary team of pediatric nurses, therapists, teachers, care coordinators and others who work together to maximize the potential of the children they serve.
“Sometimes people come here and think it’s a sad place, because of the challenges these children face,” said Karen Terry, clinical manager of KidStreet. “But if you change your perspective, you see that each day these children can do more, and it becomes a happy place.”
KidStreet has made all the difference for 3-year-old Dylan, who came to the program after suffering severe burns in a home accident two years ago. For months, Dylan could barely talk or move. Yet since coming to KidStreet, Dylan has made huge strides, particularly in his confidence and ability to connect with other children. "KidStreet has helped him so much," said Dylan’s mom, Angelica. "It's like our second home now; it's another family."
The medical staff at KidStreet attend to the children’s medical needs – for example, assisting kids who require a ventilator to breathe or a feeding tube to eat – while a team of therapists work with the children on their physical and cognitive abilities. There’s a speech therapist to help with language skills, an occupational therapist to develop social skills, a physical therapist to work on motor skills, and a special education teacher to develop personalized learning curriculums. Children are also exposed to weekly art and music therapy.
Terry says that staff members work to integrate all the various therapies into the children’s daily activities. Whether it’s teaching sign language during a diaper change or working on physical milestones during recess, part of what makes KidStreet so effective is the multi-disciplinary approach to care. “Everyone is working together on the same goals for these kids, all day, every day,” said Terry.
All of the children at KidStreet come from low-income families, many of whom have significant social needs. The children attend the program five days a week free of charge, often so that parents can attend school or go to work. Without KidStreet, many of these families would have no other childcare options outside of the home.
“These are families whose lives are in crisis,” said Terry. “We’re here to improve the children’s independence and encourage their development, but we also want to enhance the family’s ability to function.”
KidStreet gives parents resources to help improve their ability to care for a special needs child. For example, the staff provides video recordings of therapy sessions, so parents can practice new skills at home. They also offer the services of a mental health worker who can provide one-on-one counseling sessions.
For the staff at KidStreet, there is no greater success than seeing a child progress to the point that he or she can be transitioned into a traditional classroom setting. Last year, KidStreet graduated seven of its children – many of whom were never expected to be able to attend public school.
“More often than not, these kids accomplish more than we ever expected,” said Terry. “We raise the bar for them.”