The DFW Hospital Council posts guest blogs by Associate Members. The following was provided by Bryan’s House.
Over the past 30 years, Bryan’s House has served more than 23,000 children in the community. Founded in 1988 to serve children with HIV/AIDS, Bryan’s House has relaunched to include a continuum of medically-managed care, early childhood education for medically fragile children, in center-based classrooms (ages 0-5) and home care services (ages 0-21).
With robust community partners, Bryan’s House provides family supportive services – including homelessness prevention – helping families to rise out of poverty and thrive. Many clients are referred right out of the hospital, where they are living with their children.
The new model includes onsite care, with assessments for physical, occupational and speech therapies providing intensive physical and social intervention. Clinical and therapy managers oversee medical care that includes feeding children with gastrostomy tubes, administering breathing treatments, caring for children born to parents with HIV/AIDS, and monitoring children with heart defects and seizure disorders. All of these services are provided in a nurturing atmosphere. Educational programming focuses on children with all types of delays and challenges.
At various healthcare forums last year, teams often comment on finding new and innovative programs to better serve their constituents. Bryan’s House proposes their model be placed on or near existing medical sites. Through their honed continuum of care – parents can attend medical appointments, fees become more affordable, and overall community health (including mental health), improves.
“With funds invested to implement a medically-managed classroom using our model in new and existing medical facilities, we can have a bigger impact in the community,” said Abigail Erickson-Torres, chief executive officer of Bryan’s House. “I wonder who in our city will first see the true value of the programs we offer and partner with us? It’s an exciting time.”
Erickson-Torres said infants and toddlers need early evaluation and intervention.
“That can happen quickly and efficiently with new partners,” she said. “Just imagine the waiting list halved, through a few simple steps and funds over time.”
Currently at Bryan’s House, children referred from non-medical avenues are finding a medical home and swift access to diagnostic and therapy services. Referrals from Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, Children’s Health, Medical City Healthcare, City Hospital, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Baylor Scott & White Health, Ronald McDonald House, Genesis Women’s Shelter, Family Place, JWS, Community Council and other avenues come in daily. There is a long waiting list, according to Erickson-Torres.
“It’s an area we want to sustainably grow to meet the need,” she said. “Funding access for at-risk special needs children is sorely lacking in North Texas.”
The case managers at Bryan’s House works towards transitioning its children to public school after graduation from pre-K. Children who do not attend programs onsite are assisted to move into school districts around the city. The agency works with over 1,000 souls each year.
Families are also supported as they get their basic needs triaged to avoid homelessness. They can also obtain educational opportunities and find pathways to direct employment. Layering mental health services and excellence into everything they do, Bryan’s House is making steady and life-changing differences for families.
Covering 83 zip codes and eight North Texas counties, Bryan’s House has a $1.9 million dollar budget that funds 28 staff members and volunteers. More than 65 percent of its funding comes from the community. In 2018, agency leadership enacted innovations to ensure children are cared for regardless of ability to pay.
Bryan’s House is proud to have emerged as national leaders in the field, meeting high standards of care in accreditation and filling huge service gaps. The organization has served families with a series of fun, nurturing programs in creative environments. Dr. Lisa Genecov, a developmental pediatrician and board member, marvels at how the team at Bryan’s House provides a home for children with special needs, with for early childhood education, after-school care, and home-based case management services.
“The staff at Bryan’s House focuses on the whole child and their family, helping them reach their goals,” Dr. Genecov said. “The center provides two-generational programming, including infant mental health, early intervention services, family support, parent training and more.”
Bryan’s House is also a practicum site and training facility for OT/PT and speech therapy students from UT Dallas Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders Program. Four local nursing schools train students in the classrooms throughout the year. Two teachers from the Dallas Independent School District lead the pre-K classrooms at Bryan’s House in a partnership with the school district.
A Texas Rising Star Agency, the organization is also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), received a federal CACFP award for their “Healthy Steps” Food Program, and established a weather emergency classroom, among other recent achievements.
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