Featured Project: Pediatric Developmental Center

NCHN Member
Nov 19, 2014 09:22 AM
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NW Illinois Rural Health Network: Pediatric Developmental Center

The mission of the Pediatric Developmental Center (PDC) is the creation of a quality, coordinated, integrated, affordable and accessible system of care for children and youth who display developmental, emotional, social and/or behavioral concerns and their families who access services in Lee, Ogle, Carroll, and Whiteside Counties or surrounding areas who are in need of child/youth diagnostic services.

Our network is sustained in a medically underserved region of NW Illinois. Network partners have a long history of successful collaboration, becoming more integrated as innovative partnering occurs. In the past five years, Kreider Services has become a regional center for The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP). Kreider also houses an Early Intervention program and has served developmental disabled individuals for over 60 years. In 2009, Kreider and other community agency partners completed a year- long planning initiative on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The steering committee that spearheaded this initiative, united to apply for a HRSA Planning Grant to put their strategies into action. During the planning process, partners soon realized the scope of the project needed to expand beyond children and youth with ASD to embrace all children with complex needs. The group moved forward with the application for a Rural Health Development Grant. Being awarded the three-year grant network partners began providing expanded services effective July 1, 2014. Partners collaborated recently in building an application for a HRSA Outreach grant to expand the services of the PDC and to build a bridge between PDC and the Community That Cares (CTC) Project, grant funded to improve the system of care in the same four county area. The PDC concept provides the comprehensive, holistic treatment option for children and their families that was not previously available.

All partners that initially came on board in and before 2009 have remained committed to the project/s. Three main partners - Developmental/Behavioral/Medical providers are building the framework that will sustain the PDC. All partners will be active in the utilization of the PDC and will participate in multidisciplinary discussion/evaluation as indicated.

Resources Used

Network partners conducted community forums in the initial stages of the planning process. Surveys have been sent to professionals and families to assist in identifying local needs. Network partners have conducted internal evaluations and surveys as they related to the services they provided and the effectiveness of those interventions. Discussions between network partners continued through the CTC and the RHN Planning Grant with MOU's and By-Laws established. Boards were formed with steering committees addressing specific issues. Network partners have remained 100% committed to the CTC and PDC project bringing expertise from their profession, providing in-kind donation to the project - time, meeting rooms, office supplies, statistics, forms, etc. Partners utilized a consultant to participate in Plan Do Study Act and SWOT analysis in order to generate a strategic plan.


Service providers located in rural communities, by nature, find overlap when working with children/families through the system. Agencies tend to make referrals to local providers to meet the needs of community families. The service providers in this region began dialogue on how to fill gaps in service, provide follow through on referrals, provide a system of care that would embrace and support families. Discussion began as to how to pull resources together, pooling expertise to build a comprehensive support system. This led to the community forums and development of the CTC project mentioned. Having the history of dialogue and cooperative work laid, network partners see the benefit to families to their ability to provide effective treatment services in their community.

Lessons Learned

Network partners have learned the value of "the network", the strength and effectiveness of working together. It took time for partners to see beyond agency goals and focus on child/family goals and this is an ongoing part of discussion. It is difficult to meet funding, reporting and licensing requirements for multiple agencies while working together. Each agency must glean an understanding of the inner workings/governance of partner agencies and work to accommodate those. Secondly, sustainability remains a concern. Each agency has potential to bill for some services within specific guidelines. More work is required in our network to decipher how best to accomplish this without duplication of services and in an efficient, streamlined manner so as not to burden families nor agencies with additional cost. As the network grows in alignment with the strategic plan, we will need to determine how to bring new partners into the mix in an effective, efficient and rewarding manner. ROI is an area we need to explore and promote using data driven support. The process of locating a physical site adequate to maintain the PDC has taken more time than initially thought. Meeting the needs of multiple partners in one physical site has proven a learning experience in itself.


Network partners are near resolving the issue of where to house the PDC, at least on a temporary basis. Once square footage was determined, how many offices/storage space/restrooms/etc. minimally required, partners were able to move forward more quickly. Partners also developed a Release/Exchange of Information for multiple agencies to expedite and streamline procurement of documents. Flow Charts are being developed to provide overview of governance and treatment path within the PDC. By-Laws and MOU's have been established with plan for review on an annual basis Network partners are all proficient in grant writing and continue to investigate further opportunities for funding inclusive of grants/gifting/fund-raising events.

While much time has been spent of designating a physical site for the PDC and developing processes for treatment, inclusive of the release/exchange of information, progress toward objectives integrated in the strategic plan are being implemented. Trainings for parents have begun. Clinical and medical assessments have been conducted at one site in a collaborative effort. Referrals between partner organizations have been initiated. An outside evaluator has been contracted to collect and analyze data; forms have been condensed to accommodate network partners to avoid redundancy, yet provide needed information to the evaluator. The network director has begun the search for staff to be responsible for clinical oversight of the project. The network continues the synergy required to accomplish our goals in a collaborative effort.


Laura Watters
Network Director, NW Illinois Rural Health Network
Ph: 815-288-6691

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