Giving Children the Power to Speak
Julie DeAngelis helps children to speak clearly. Even those who still want to wear COVID-19 masks to hide their language delays.
Remote learning and the social isolation wrought by the pandemic left many students behind. This is acutely true of children’s language and speech development. How can you expect a toddler to mimic language if they’re surrounded by masked faces?
RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Santa Barbara, founded in 1984, is the only nonprofit in Santa Barbara County offering free language and speech therapy for children.
DeAngelis, director of RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Santa Barbara, says that local pediatricians, psychologists, librarians, and schools are aware of their services, but the need is greater than their small staff can support.
“We have developed all these amazing programs based on the needs in our community,” DeAngelis says. “The school system has strict parameters on who can qualify. So many children might still need therapy, but they are not qualifying based on the parameters.”
This is where the center fills that gap, specifically with a focus on the preschool years, with other programs for older children.
Housed in the historic Masonic Temple in Santa Barbara, RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Santa Barbara typically treats over 100 patients a year with extensive private speech and language therapy supported by three programs to augment those efforts: Camp Chit Chat, a socially interactive camp for preschool-age children with mild to moderate speech and language delays; Brain Lab, an after-school literacy program for students from first grade through sixth grade; and Super Brains, a small group of kindergarten through first-grade children that works on social skills.
The nonprofit measures success by clear speech. This essential ability is a struggle for many young children who initially arrive at the center having to repeat themselves to be understood, or turn to others to interpret for them. Sometimes, DeAngelis says, parents bring a child to the center who isn’t talking at all.
The best stories end on graduation day, she says, when that same student won’t stop talking.
Executive Director, Speech-Language Pathologist: Julie DeAngelis
Help children find their voice. The California Scottish Rite Foundation is dedicated to support and assist children in California by providing childhood speech-language, literacy and education programs for a lifetime of improved communication and confidence.
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I first became interested in RiteCare of SB because I saw the great work they were doing for under-served local children through their free services, like Camp Chit Chat. As a Board Member, and former recipient of speech therapy, I am proud to do my part to help other children gain access to life-changing speech and communication. So many of the kids who use these services have stories of making their first friends, or being able to participate in school and social situations because they can communicate clearly. Supporting RiteCare of SB is the best way to support children across the community after the challenging few years they’ve endured.
Expanding Reach and Speech
RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Santa Barbara offers free speech therapy to more than 100 children every year. But, the long tail of the pandemic on children’s educational development – especially in spoken language – means the nonprofit needs to expand to meet the need.
The center is raising $60,000 this year to hire a clinician to help serve more children.
“We have the need to expand our therapy services to help more children in Santa Barbara,” says Julie DeAngelis, the director of RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Santa Barbara. “We have always had a waitlist for our services. Hiring another staff member would allow us to see more children annually, around 30 more a year with a full-time clinician.”
Santa Barbara Foundation
Hutton Parker Foundation
Santa Barbara Lodge of Perfection
King David’s Lodge #209
Mark and Amy Frank
Carpinteria Masonic Center
William Safina Trust
David Bradley and Chelsea Rangsikitpho
Toine and Kandie Overgaag
Maurice and Mary Sourmany
Roy and Ida Eagle Foundation