Nonprofit reaches out to community to provide early intervention for children

By Diane A. Rhodes

September 8, 2022

Valley News

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          Skyrocket Pediatric Therapy Foundation announced the launch of its Pediatric Development Outreach Program to provide free materials and resources to families with children of all abilities Friday, August 26, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.  the nonprofit was established about a year ago by speech and language pathologist Rachel Troccoli of Temecula after she observed firsthand the frustration and confusion experienced by families of children with developmental delay.

          "Time after time she saw how families were unaware of what developmental milestones and risk factors were indicators of a child's need for developmental therapy, lacked the knowledge of the resources available in the community to gain access to services and/or were unable to afford the early intervention and developmental therapies that  could have a lasting impact on the lives of children for years to come," Chief Operations Officer Katy Chisom said.  "If parents or care providers are concerned, or even just curious, about a child's development, Skyrocket is a free resource providing information and a link to resources aimed at helping the better understand typical pediatric development and the resources that exist within the community that may benefit their child."

          After starting her own practice and learning more about the funding sources that are available for pediatric therapy, Troccoli said she was frustrated at the amount of children who are not receiving the early and frequent services that research has shown to be most effective. 

          "Many children are not receiving services at all or have to wait until they are old enough to attend public school," Chisom said.  "Many families do not know where to start if they have concerns about their children and so not know where to go for support.  Rachel started Skyrocket Pediatric Therapy Foundation to help families and children receives services that will make a positive impact on their daily functioning, community participation and academic success."

          Troccoli has experience working at small and large clinics with children of all ages with autism spectrum disorders, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Down syndrome, childhood apraxia of speech, cerebral palsy, voice disorders, fluency disorders, developmental delay and more.

          As the nonprofit's founder, president of the board and executive director, she has surrounded herself with a strong team to accomplish all the goals she has for the organization.  Chisom is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in supporting families and children of all abilities.  Most recently she was the subject matter resource for mental health treatment and trauma informed care at the National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, serving families who experienced trauma following major transportation accidents.  Before that position she provided play therapy, social skills therapy, and wrap-around care for families of children with developmental delay in the Los Angeles area.  As COO, Chisom supports all areas of the nonprofit and assists Troccoli in the development and execution of all program initiatives.  She said the organization's current focus has been on launching its Pediatric Development Outreach Program, one of its three core programs.  

          "As a newly established nonprofit, we have needed time to get many administrative processes up and running before we could 'go live' with any programs," Chisom said.  "Our focus was on having a strong volunteer work force and great materials and resources before we officially launched the program and began to offer outreach to families and the pediatric care community.  Taking our time to build a strong program has allowed Skyrocket to kick off the outreach program and ensure we have the capacity to support families of children with disabilities and the community becomes aware of the services Skyrocket provides.

          Chisom is responsible for the recruitment and management of the volunteer force, including the four part-time volunteers that have been supporting this new program.

          "The volunteers are graduate students in the areas of speech and language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy and are passionate about helping underserved children," she said.  "Their efforts have been instrumental in the creation of educational materials and resources for families, as well as conducting community outreach to local schools, community organizations and service providers in the Temecula area."

          Chisom said the Pediatric Development Outreach Program's ultimate goal is to create a Temecula where families, teachers, childcare providers and health care providers feel confident in their knowledge of pediatric development and developmental services available in their community.

          "This will result in children receiving the early, intensive services specific for their individual needs," she said.  "It is also important for us that families of children with disabilities receive support and assistance along their journey.  Through the Pediatric Development Outreach Program, we will be able to share information about the additional programs Skyrocket is offering and expanding capacity for, including care coordination and financial assistance."

          Skyrocket currently does not have a physical location.  It offers families, service providers, educators, medical professionals, and the community opportunities to connect virtually through its website, email and phone, as well as in person through community events and educational opportunities provided by its staff, board members and volunteers. 

          Members of the organization will be present at the Temecula Health and Community Resource Fair Saturday, September 24, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Civic Center, 41000 Main Street in Temecula.

          Inspired by her sons' love of outer space, Troccoli loves the idea that Skyrocket Pediatric Therapy Foundation will inspire children to reach for the stars and to convey the belief that there is no limit to a child's potential.