February 4, 2022

Rainbows United Receives Project of the Year Award

Rainbows staff pictured L to R: Audra Kenneson, LMSW – Mental Health Coordinator; Cindie Silmon, LCMFT, RPT – Mental Health Specialist (ABC Home Visitor); Leslie Stevens, LCMFT – Mental Health Specialist (ABC Home Visitor); Deb Voth – President; Debbie Mai, Former Vice President of Programs and Services

Each year, the Health Fund board selects one outstanding grant-funded project to receive the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award, named in honor of our first board chairperson. The award recognizes a project which has done the most to advance the Fund’s and Janet’s vision of health for all Kansans and demonstrates scale, achievement, leveraging, operational excellence, social justice and diversity.

Rainbows United, Inc., Wichita, received the 2020 award for its participation in the Kansas Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) Initiative Grant, supporting implementation of an evidence-based home visiting model to build attachment and mitigate the effects of toxic stress in young children.

“Each year our board faces a difficult task in picking just one outstanding project to receive this award. The entire ABC initiative and all five sites involved have done amazing work to build stronger relationships between young children and their caregivers,” said Katie Schoenhoff, director of programs. “Our board selected Rainbows for the Janet Sevier Gilbreath award because of their impressive outcomes, strong peer leadership, and their demonstrated sustainability of the project.” 

 Health Fund: Congratulations on receiving the Janet Sevier Gilbreath Award. Your organization has reported the best outcomes of all the agencies in the Kansas ABC project. What are some of the outcomes your home visitors have seen?

 Rainbows: Over the five years of providing this service, we have been fortunate to see firsthand the positive impact of early intervention mental health services in the lives of the families we serve. As one of our ABC home visitors reported about a child who initially showed anger and frustration while seldom going to his mother for help. “Through the mom’s hard work, this little guy is more engaged and bonded with her. When he is upset he goes to her for comfort and he does not get mad at things as easily as when he first began the program.” The big success was when the mom reported, “He enjoys playing with me, now!”

 Health Fund: Rainbows has shown exceptional leadership in the ABC project. You’ve helped other sites determine how to best integrate ABC into their organizations, have invited them to training opportunities, and openly shared templates and tracking systems to help other sites efficiently implement the ABC program. What’s your organization’s philosophy on peer leadership and learning communities?

Rainbows: At Rainbows, we have 10 Guiding Principles that help us navigate our work with children and families. One of those guiding principles is that we “Achieve success through teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration” and another is that we “Demonstrate leadership in our industry.” Those are two guiding principles highlighted in our work as we collaborate on the ABC project. From all levels of work being done at Rainbows, we believe that families are best served when we help each other.

Health Fund: At the Health Fund, we often fund grants to test, pilot, and evaluate programs with the hope that they can be scaled and achieve sustainability. Rainbows has shown great success in implementing the ABC program. Please share your efforts to sustain ABC.

Rainbows: Through the generosity of the Health Fund, we were able to achieve a long-time goal of our agency: Explore the options of billing Medicaid for Mental Health services, which meant we also needed to prepare to diagnose very young children. It was important to us to explore our options, understand guidelines, and ensure the work we did was accurate. The Health Fund allowed us to take our time to ensure that we did everything correctly. During the third year, we began to successfully bill for services. In addition, prior to the pandemic, Rainbows took part in fundraising specifically earmarked for early childhood mental health services. 

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