Words From Wendy: It’s our Birthday!

by Wendy Deters, Executive Director

Every February we celebrate Child’s Voice’s Birthday. This year Child’s Voice will be 28 years old! It is always gratifying to back and look at our history so please enjoy reading about where Child’s Voice started and how far we’ve come.

Founded in 1996, by just six families that wanted a strong listening and spoken language opportunity for their children, Child’s Voice has grown and changed. However, the mission has remained constant: to empower children with hearing loss to be successful in all educational and social settings. We celebrate the growth of our organization and look ahead to the next challenges.

From six students to 22 in just three years, this was just the beginning. Child’s Voice programs have served more families each and every year. To date there have been almost 300 graduates of the school program. Additionally, we have served over 600 families in our EI programs!

The original hallmark of Child’s Voice, the School Program utilizes the Moog Curriculum, the concentrated focus on listening and spoken language education incorporated a classroom style setting for children from the age of 3 to 8-years old. Through outreach and strong partnerships with families, solid relationships have been built with many school districts. Most students that attend the school are supported through their school districts.

As the Child’s Voice reputation of success grew, the student population expanded as did the professional staff. This staff has grown from the initial Teachers of the Deaf, Speech Language Pathologists, teaching assistants, and support staff to Advancement and Business professionals. Program positions are sought-after by Speech Language Pathologists and Teachers of the Deaf. Many staff hold the highest certification available in listening and spoken language, the LSLS Certificate. Staff are engaged in their professional communities serving with partner organizations such as the A.G. Bell Association, Options Schools, Inc., Illinois Supervisors of Programs for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals, the State of Illinois Newborn Hearing Screening Board, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

In 1999, the addition of the Early Intervention Program (birth to 3-year-old services) was an answer to a significant need for families.

The Audiology Center at Child’s Voice (opened in 2008) was a necessity to the success of our students. Without efficient access to sound, our students cannot learn the tools they need to speak and develop language skills. The Audiology Center supports not only current families, but also alumni of Child’s Voice and outside pediatric patents. Technological advances have improved the ability to provide earlier diagnosis of hearing loss.

Child’s Voice has utilized a strategic plan to guide the work and growth of the organization since 2000. These plans have aided in the key movements of Child’s Voice from a relocation to a larger, improved facility to program expansion. Child’s Voice also incorporates standard best practices in compliance with the Illinois State Board of Education, special education code, outcome measurement of program success/metrics, accounting practices, and fundraising efforts.

A volunteer Board of Directors leads Child’s Voice. The current Board represents community and business leaders and family of Child’s Voice graduates. We are so incredibly proud of the work that has been done at Child’s Voice and I look forward to our next chapter serving children with hearing loss and their families.