Children and adults with disabilities are some of the hardest hit by impacts of the current health crisis. Children are at risk for delays of critical developmental supports and a record number of adults are losing their jobs and facing isolation.
Sherwood, a nonprofit in Lake Stevens, supports children and adults with disabilities in their communities. They were able to immediately shift their service model to telehealth and remote supports to eliminate any lapse in critical services. They continue to operate at full capacity to take on urgent new referrals in both programs.
With schools and daycares closed, parents are spending more time with their children. It’s a prime opportunity to pay closer attention to a child’s development.
“We started telehealth before physical distancing protocols, so we were prepared,” says Lance Morehouse, Sherwood CEO. The proactive approach has resulted in almost 1,000 therapy sessions since March 5.
“It’s scary to be uncertain about the future of employment and your family’s health. Adding a child’s developmental delay on top of that can cause more anxiety and fear. Our team remains available to step in and provide virtual evaluations, therapies and consultations to give parents peace of mind, and the tools they need to help their child grow,” Morehouse says.
Early attention to developmental delays is essential
Acting early, when the brain is still developing, is critical. “Huge impacts with therapies are made in those first three years, so it’s important to pay attention and act early. We don’t want to miss the window of opportunity for a child during this difficult time,” Morehouse adds.
Anna Gibson, Director of Early Intervention, encourages any parent who is concerned about their child’s development to call immediately for an evaluation.
“You don’t need a pediatrician’s referral. If something seems off, call us right away,” Gibson says.
Sherwood recognizes that the current situation has caused a great deal of financial uncertainty for families and they remain committed to making therapies affordable for all.
“Our supporters have been amazing at helping supplement the increased requests for hardship funding right now,”Morehouse says.
Tools are also available on Sherwood’s website to help parents track their child’s development progress.
Support continues for adults with disabilities
Sherwood continues to fully support adults with disabilities, who are experiencing an increase in layoffs and isolation. The Vocational program is providing job supports to any individual who is still considered an essential employee, while helping those who have lost their jobs navigate unemployment. Most importantly, the staff remains consistent in their lives.
“Our team is stepping up to check on our program members who are staying safe at home so they don’t feel isolated and alone. We are taking this opportunity to get to know our community members better and be ready to get them jobs again when restrictions are lifted,” Morehouse says.
Nothing is stopping Sherwood from staying true to their mission and helping as many people as possible during this time. Any adult with a referral from DDA or DVR can be supported by Sherwood immediately with a skills assessment and resume building and as businesses re-open be matched with an employer.
“We don’t want anyone falling behind or feeling alone right now. Our entire team is more committed than ever to remain present and available,” Morehouse says.