Keystone CEO Recognized for Integrated Healthcare

Keystone CEO Katherine Falwell, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist, was recognized in a recent issue of the Ponte Vedra Recorder for her efforts to help children with integrated healthcare that focuses on all areas of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional and learning services provided by Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, which Dr. Falwell founded in 2008.

The article chronicled the path that led Dr. Falwell to open Keystone, starting with her postdoctoral residency at the University of Florida, where Dr. Falwell became part of the faculty at University of Florida in the Department of Behavior Analysis. She became aware that Northeast Florida needed more comprehensive pediatric services than it had available at the time to meet the growing numbers of children with unique needs and took the opportunity to open Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics in 2008 to further her idea of collaborative, integrated healthcare.

Keystone provides Integrated Healthcare that Focuses on All Areas of Behavioral, Developmental, Socio-Emotional and Learning Services

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Katie Falwell (far right), in addition to her passion for helping children become successful, is also devoted to her family and northeast Florida beaches community.

Next, Dr. Falwell opened Keystone Child Development Center in 2013, because she believes passionately in research that supports the importance of providing individualized instruction and support as early as possible in a young child’s life. She designed KCDC to focus on all aspects of a child – mind, body and soul – to offer children the best opportunity for success in elementary school and throughout life.

In response to the paper’s question about her focus on early intervention, Dr. Falwell notes, “All children learn and grow at different rates. These first five years of a child’s life are filled with major developmental milestones that prepare them for lifelong learning.” She refers to research which shows that 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5.

Research also confirms that getting help early can lead to the best outcomes for kids. Developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues are estimated to affect one in every six children. Because these issues are often very subtle in young children, only 20 to 30 percent are identified as needing help before kindergarten.

The article described Keystone’s new Right from the Start Clinic designed to help parents know whether their baby would benefit from early intervention to solve or alleviate any issues before they become problematic. The Right from the Start clinic is a free screening clinic for children between the ages of one month and 5-1/2 years old. Parents can complete a free questionnaire online by clicking on the ASQ logo on our website. The questionnaire gives Keystone therapists an idea of areas of a child’s development that are of concern to the child’s parents. A client care coordinator contacts the parents after the clinic receives their completed survey and invites them to visit Keystone for a free multidisciplinary screening evaluation to assess their child’s developmental progress. Parents will meet with clinicians from Keystone’s psychology, occupational therapy and speech language departments, as well as a pediatrician. At the end of the visit, they will receive information on how their child is doing developmentally, with suggestions to target any areas of need that have been identified.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, located in Jacksonville, Duval County, northeast Florida, offers integrated healthcare by a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of 130 child psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, behavior analysts and technicians, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, teachers, and pediatrician working in 17 specialized clinics. The focus is on early intervention regarding health and wellness, the whole child and all issues that affect a child’s potential for success including physical, developmental, learning, behavioral and social-emotional issues.

Keystone works with children from one month old to 22 years old on all types of behavioral, developmental, socio-emotional, physical and learning issues in four types of clinics: assessment clinics (Neuropsychological, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Health and Wellness and Educational and Learning), developmental clinics (Autism and Developmental, Right from the Start, Early Intervention and Day Treatment); Rehabilitative Clinics (Feeding, Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language); and Treatment Clinics (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), Disruptive Behavior and Mood).

Keystone Child Development Center offers safe, nurturing and stimulating preschool and early intervention services from infancy through kindergarten. We have a minimum of two teachers in each classroom and a child development team that works with the teachers to focus on intellectual, social and behavioral success for each child. With maximum class sizes of 12, KCDC is able to create individualized learning plans.

Free developmental screenings target birth to five years

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics will open a new Right from the Start Clinic beginning Aug. 2. The clinic is offering community infants and toddlers from birth to age 5 free comprehensive screenings to help parents identify as early as possible any physical or developmental issues that children may have. Study after study has shown that the earlier a delay is recognized and intervention is begun, the better chance a child has to substantially improve. Developmental screening is one of the best things you can do to ensure a child’s success in school and life.

Parents are invited to contact Keystone for a login code to complete a FREE online screening tool, part of the Ages and Stages Assessment and Toolkit. The screening involves answering a series of simple questions regarding their kid’s abilities (for example, “Does your child climb on an object such as a chair to reach something he wants?” or “When your child wants something does she tell you by pointing to it?”).

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics' Right from the Start Clinic identifies early developmental and behavioral delays.
Keystone founder and CEO Katie Falwell, Ph.D., works with young children to identify developmental delays and issues as early as possible to correct them before children start school.

Parents’ answers to the screening go directly to Keystone for therapists to identify any possible concerns. Then, parents are scheduled to bring their child in for a 1-hour session that includes free screenings by a licensed child psychologist, pediatric occupational therapist, pediatric speech/language therapist and pediatrician trained in developmental growth. Each of these four disciplines will give parents a “report card” with green, yellow or red light results. A green light means that the child is on track with peers, yellow means that there are slight indications of a developmental or behavioral delay compared to peers that parents will be advised to watch closely, and red means that a definite delay has been identified and should be addressed by professional therapy immediately so that the child is prepared for elementary school.

For children who receive a green light, the screening reassures their parents. Parents of a child who receives a red light report will be given recommendations of next steps that they may want to take on how to get the intervention services they need. All parents who participate will have access to a number of free resources about developmental stages to anticipate and ways to help their child.

To further encourage parents to get their infant a developmental check-up as early as possible, Keystone is offering FREE on-site first birthday screenings (by appointment on Tuesdays beginning Aug. 2, 2016). These screenings look for physical, developmental and behavioral delays, beyond what pediatricians typically monitor at a child’s 1-year well visit. Local pediatric health providers and daycare providers may contact 904.619.6071 or info@keystonebehavioral.com to request free Happy First Birthday postcards to give to their parents with 1-year-old children.

Parents of children from birth to age 5 should call Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, 904.619.6071, to receive a log-in code to complete the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, which will be accessed on Keystone’s website, www.keystonebehavioral.com.

Background

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics offers integrated healthcare by a team of highly educated child psychologists, behavior therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language therapists, feeding therapists and a medical director who lead the 120-person staff in collaborating to bring the best resources for addressing behavioral, developmental and physical issues in children. It offers one stop services to parents plus collaboration is the most effective way to address interactive issues that children often have. The organization is led by Katie Falwell, Ph.D. and a Florida licensed psychologist who specializes in child development. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants and young children be screened for delays as a regular part of their ongoing health care. Research shows that addressing these issues in children before they start elementary school can produce significant gains in language and mental abilities, improve their social communication and correct any physical delays or impairments before they become disabling. Because these issues are subtle in young children, most children who would benefit from early intervention are not identified until after they start school. 

As the National Academy of Sciences stated in From Neurons to Neighborhoods, “Compensating for missed opportunities, such as the failure to detect early difficulties or the lack of exposure to environments rich in language, often requires extensive intervention, if not heroic efforts, later in life.” 

Developmental delays, learning disorders and behavioral and social-emotional problems are estimated to affect 1 in every 6 children, yet only 20-30 percent of these children are identified as needing help before school begins. Identifying these issues prior to children starting kindergarten has huge academic, social and economic benefits. Studies have proven that children who receive early treatment for developmental delays are more likely to graduate from high school, hold jobs, live independently and avoid teen pregnancy, delinquency and violent crime which results in saving to society of about $30,000 to $100,000 per child. Plus, getting help with these issues as early in a child’s life as possible improves quality of life and reduces stress for the whole family.

Keystone’s VPK program earns perfect inspection by DCF

Keystone Child Development Center’s Pre-K/VPK program for 3½- to 5-year old children offers individualized instruction to prepare both children with special needs and also those typically developing for its kindergarten program, which is a one- to two-year program designed to fit the individual needs of each student. The Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) monitors KCDC’s facilities because the center offers a free voluntary prekindergarten program, which is funded by the state.

Under new KS48-croppedmanagement by Ashley Kiser, M.S., BCBA, director of early childhood services, and Greta Hernandez, RBT, assistant director of early childhood services, the KCDC facility has been 100 percent compliant in the past four quarterly inspections.

The Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program (VPK) provides 4-year-old children who reside in Florida and were born on or before Sept. 1 each year with an opportunity to attend quality preschools such as KCDC for free, to enable them to receive age-appropriate curricula with a strong emphasis on early literacy skills, accountability, manageable class sizes and qualified instructors. The Florida VPK program supports Keystone’s emphasis on the importance of a child’s early years in learning to be attentive and to follow directions.

KCDC supports the philosophy that the most important growth and development in the brain happens by the age of five. Structured early learning fosters these abilities for later success in school and in life. In addition, KCDC’s Pre-K/VPK program uses a multi-age classroom setting, which allows younger students to learn from their older, more experienced peers while giving older students the opportunity to lead and support their younger peers.

KCDC uses the “Making Friends, Pre-K – 3: A Social Skills Program for Inclusive Settings” (Second Edition) curriculum. Students enjoy structured and unstructured social activities while reaping the benefits of weekly themes and lessons.

As a department within Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics, KCDC offers its children services offered by other Keystone departments, such as onsite medical care including a pediatrician and nurse/ psychological assessment; applied behavior analysis (ABA); early identification and intervention of developmental delays and behavioral challenges; and feeding, speech and occupational therapy.

To learn more, arrange a visit or apply, visit Keystone’s website or contact info@keystonebehavioral.com, 904.619.6071.

 

Keystone named one of Jacksonville’s top 50 fastest-growing companies

Jacksonville Business Journal recently named Keystone to its Fast 50 list of the 50 fastest-growing companies in northeast Florida. By expanding based on need and stabilizing as necessary to remain financially sound, Keystone has steadily grown since its founding in 2008 as a small pediatric mental health behavior clinic.

In focusing on an integrated whole-child approach to assessment and treatment, Keystone quickly began to recognize the need for a school for special needs students who cannot function in a public school setting and who would benefit from having ready access to their behavioral therapists during the school day. As a result, in 2010, Keystone Academy was added as a special needs school for kindergarten through grade 12.

As more children and their families continued to come to Keystone for services, the clinic began seeing children with rehabilitative needs, with or without mental health/behavioral issues. Therapists were added to staff departments in occupational, feeding and speech and language with the goal of becoming truly interdisciplinary – one stop for services – to make it more convenient for families and less overwhelming to obtain services.

Keystone knows that early intervention is the key to successfully changing behaviors, so in 2013 Keystone Child Development Center was added to serve children 18 months through kindergarten. The center is VPK endorsed. In response to discovering that some children enrolled in the VPK program would benefit by having an extra year of kindergarten before transitioning to regular school, Keystone opened a one- or two- year kindergarten program this fall.

This summer Keystone transitioned Keystone Academy to Mainspring Academy, to enable it to grow as a separate, nonprofit, private, special needs school. Keystone therapists remain the primary providers of behavioral services for Mainspring Academy students, often working alongside academic teachers in the classroom, in addition to providing additional services after school.

In planning for the future, Keystone is adding more certified or credentialed staff because there is more need in the area than services available to meet the need. Keystone is focusing on making preschools and all public and private school in north Florida and south Georgia aware that it is available to train their staff on how to recognize and manage behavioral issues in the classroom.

Dr. Katherine Falwell, founder and CEO, continues to lead Keystone on its path to serving both typically developing children and children with special needs. While she was a professor and post-doc at the University of Florida, she became aware of the need for more pediatric behavioral services in general, and Jacksonville, as a large metro area, seemed a logical place to open a practice. The number of institutions of higher education in and near Jacksonville is a tremendous benefit to a growing practice like Keystone. The clinic regularly engages interns and practicum students majoring in psychology.

Keystone’s commitment to charitable organizations that relate to the developmental issues that its children face has helped it grow as well. For example, staff and families participate in annual runs and walks hosted by organizations such as the Early Learning Coalition, Walk Now for Autism Speaks, North Florida Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Jax4Kids, March for Babies – First Coast, HEAL Foundation and Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville. These organizations work hard to raise money that goes towards improving and supporting services such as the ones Keystone provides and engaging and informing families with special needs children.

Keystone Behavioral Pediatrics is a full-service, outpatient clinic providing individual- and family-based services to both typically developing children and those with special needs from birth to 22 years of age. Keystone emphasizes an integrated whole-child approach to assessment and treatment. Treatment commonly involves new skill acquisition through evidence-based behavioral programming strategies to promote positive behaviors and to decrease problematic actions.

 

Grant funds new sensory garden

Keystone Behavioral Services has broken ground on a new sensory garden, with a grant it was awarded March 2015 from the HEAL Foundation. The garden is the vision of Sam Bean, MOTR/L, assistant director of Keystone’s Occupational Therapy Department, and Dawn Berg, BCaBA, director of the Feeding Disorders Department, who wanted an outdoor space for the children and community that would enhance learning and therapy.

Staff has been busy clearing the land and building retaining walls for the new Keystone Sensory Garden.
Staff has been busy clearing the land and building retaining walls for the new Keystone Sensory Garden.

Staff volunteers have begun clearing land and building retaining walls. Next the staff will prepare the soil and choose plants that will appeal to all five senses. The goal is to have Keystone Sensory Garden planted and growing sometime this summer to offer a richer and more therapeutic experience to children with special needs.

“A sensory garden offers the children we serve many benefits,” Berg. “The children take pride in their work and gain a sense of responsibility, plus working in the garden helps reduce stress, anxiety and frustration. It’s a natural learning environment,” she said.

The garden enhances math, science, health, writing/language arts and social studies concepts taught in Keystone Child Development Center and Keystone Academy students.

It also offers therapeutic value for all children served by Keystone Behavioral Services, many of whom face behavioral challenges such as ADHD, autism, cerebral palsy, speech/language disorders, Down Syndrome, feeding disorders, or brain injury, for example.

“The children have been very curious about the garden,” Bean said. “Their education has been inside and in a relatively sterile environment, so we’re all very excited that they will be able to interact with nature and learn outside.”

“In addition to improving fine and gross motor skills, working in the garden encourages communication and increases social skills. One student even went out of his way to thank the volunteers for helping in the garden,” Bean said.

Four types of plants will be included in the Keystone Sensory Garden: tactile plants such as Touch Me Not with leaves that fold inward and droop when touched or shaken and Lamb’s Ear with a silvery grey foliage that is soft and fuzzy; olfactory plants such as rosemary and cilantro; visual plants such as hibiscus and coleus; and gustatory plants such as lemons and peppers. Staff hopes to add special features such as wind chimes, a birdhouse, hummingbird feeder and a water feature.

The concept of a sensory garden is based on clinical research. One article, “Gardening as therapy for children with behavioral disorders” written by Marilyn McGinnis, BSN, RN, and published in the Vol. 2, Issue 3, pages 87-91, September 1989 issue of Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, reports that in addition to the physical benefits the children received from the garden, they also were able to discuss “feelings of fear, sadness, abandonment and pride, as well as family issues” (91).