Unique Partnership Connects Families With Services For Developmental Support

Greenville-based Center for Developmental Services (CDS) is a unique collaboration of six organizations that work together to provide a comprehensive array of developmental support to residents across the Upstate.

Located under one roof, the partnering groups - which include BabyNet, Clarity, Family Connection, Greenville County Schools, Greenville Hospital System Children's Hospital and KidVentures - collectively serve more than 6,500 children each year, addressing development issues related to speech and language, hearing, motor skills, learning, sensory processing, and self-care skills.

"Prior to the founding of CDS, families with special needs had to drive all over the Upstate to receive the many services that a child can need," said CDS Executive Director Rebecca Davis. "We cut out the driving and make families comfortable between appointments."

The center:

Complete with amenities like a climbing wall and a pool, CDS is the largest multi-disciplinary treatment and evaluation center for children with special needs in the Upstate. Additionally, it is the only treatment and evaluation center in the Upstate that serves the entire pediatric age spectrum, from birth to age 21.

And although the six partnering groups are independent entities, the agencies work together to efficiently deliver a wide range of evaluation, treatment and education options to those with special developmental needs. The collaboration allows professionals of many disciplines to interact and share information about treatment not only for specific clients, but also, more generally, about best practices.

"We work hard to keep the lines of communication between and among the agencies open, providing better outcomes for children with special needs," Davis said. "And CDS also helps to reduce the amount of time the agencies must spend on activities not directly related to client care, such as reception, office management, and facility maintenance." 

The partners:

BabyNet of First Steps is an early intervention system for infants and toddlers under three years of age with developmental delays or who have conditions associated with developmental delays. Funded and regulated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, all referred children who meet eligibility criteria are served, regardless of family income.

Clarity is a not-for-profit agency that provides speech & language, learning & psychology, hearing & audiology assessment and treatment to children and adults. In operation for over 60 years, the group strives to help developmentally-challenged individuals realize their potential and improve their quality of life.

Family Connection of SC provides support and information to families with children with disabilities and special healthcare needs. All eligible families in South Carolina qualify for free services, which include a parent-to-parent network of support, workshops, support groups and fun, family events.

The offices of Preschool Special Education of Greenville County Schools (PSE) are located at CDS. Committed to working with children with development disabilities beginning at age three, PSE provides comprehensive support up until the child reaches eligibility for placement as a school age child.

Children's Hospital System's University Medical Center Children's Hospital programs at CDS include Wonder Center, Kidnetics and Developmental Pediatrics.  Wonder Center is a day treatment program offered to medically fragile children; Kidnetics provides therapeutic services for children on an inpatient and outpatient basis from birth to age 21; and Developmental Pediatrics specializes in evaluating and treating children with developmental difficulties and related behavioral issues.

KidVentures is the early intervention program of the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board. Using the child's natural environment, the KidVentures' Early Interventionists work with the family through weekly home visits to build on the strengths of the child. KidVentures services, which are at no cost to participants, are always family-focused and promote family choices in decisions involving the child's development.

The future:

CDS is in the middle of a strategic planning process. And, according to Davis, part of that process is to evaluate the needs of their clients and determine how CDS might best serve those needs, opening the door to the possibility of offering even more services in the future.

"If CDS does add new partners or develop new programs, it will be because it is clear that that is what the families of the community need," she said.

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Center for Developmental Services. 

James Richardson is a freelance writer and the publisher of the Travelers Rest Tribune. When he's not writing, James enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two children at any one of many places across the Upstate.