As the director of the Lee Ann Britain Infant Development Center on the Shawnee Mission Medical Center campus, Amy Milroy has had the privilege of getting to know hundreds of families who have walked through the doors seeking assistance for their children. Although each child’s situation is different, families come to the Britain IDC for one common reason—to learn the best way to support their children with special needs now and into the future.
The Britain IDC is a unique place offering individualized programs for children from birth to six years and their families from a team of specialists including physical, occupational and music therapists, speech language pathologists, early childhood special education teachers, behavior analysts, social workers and paraprofessionals. There are about 30 families consistently on the waiting list, which is a testament not only to the quality of care provided but also to the great need for these services within the Kansas City community.
“It is truly a blessing to come to work and witness the impact our staff makes in the lives of children each and every day,” said Milroy.
Providing tools for success
Amy often shares one of the Britain IDC’s many success stories. Shortly after Jennifer Degner’s birth in July of 1973, her parents noticed little movement in her right arm. Doctors were not concerned, but as time passed, Jennifer’s parents felt something was not right. A church friend referred them to Lee Ann Britain, founder of the Britain IDC. Jennifer began receiving services there at age two and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Day after day, Jennifer’s mother struggled as she watched her child experience difficulty completing tasks. She had daily conversations with Britain to boost her morale, and appreciated the support Lee Ann provided to their whole family, not just Jennifer.
While in high school, Jennifer volunteered at the Britain IDC. Her volunteer experience coupled with the positive impact from teachers throughout her life helped confirm education as her chosen career path. Jennifer became an early childhood special education teacher 17 years ago and now works for the Olathe School District in Olathe, Kansas. She credits the Britain IDC for her success and believes it was the IDC’s staff who gave her family hope, confidence and the tools needed to help her grow into the very capable, passionate woman she is today.
“At the Britain IDC, we believe involvement from family and friends is a vital part of our program and its ability to bring encouragement and joy to children with special needs,” said Milroy.
New facility, same mission
Staff at the Britain IDC is proud to have touched the lives of more than 4,000 children since its opening in 1972, and look forward to continuing the tradition with the new B.E. Smith Children’s Center, which will soon replace the current facility on the SMMC campus.
The B.E. Smith Children’s Center will house the Britain IDC and the Shawnee Mission Health Early Learning Center, where 600 children of SMH associates and physicians benefit from Christian-based early education. With the new facility, the Britain IDC will have the opportunity to accept more families into the program, as well as enhance therapeutic treatment and educational offerings.
“When families like the Degners come to us, they are often fearful of the unknown,” said Milroy. “We make it our mission to extend hope, love and kindness, and ultimately lead them to a place where they can imagine and witness a brighter future for their children.”
To learn more about the Britain IDC or plans for the B.E. Smith Children’s Center, please visit ShawneeMission.org/foundation.
—Jackie Woods is a writer for Shawnee Mission Health.