Drivers in Chaska will soon notice a new sight on Highway 41 just south of Engler Boulevard: a playground. It’ll be part of a newly-renovated childcare center set to open around April — but it’s not a typical daycare.
Lorenz Clinic is already established in Chaska with outpatient therapy services, but a new service is coming to town.
“It looks a lot like preschool, but it’s three hours of therapy,” said Anne Fleming, assistant clinical director of the incoming clinic said.
The current Chaska Lorenz Clinic is adding trauma-focused childhood day treatment, one of four that pay particular attention to trauma in Minnesota.
“It’s three hours a day, five days a week. That’s a lot of therapy,” Dr. Chad Lorenz said.
Young children who’ve faced trauma like neglect or rape can be enrolled in the program. Staff said it’s mainly to help them transition back into daycare and school environments.
HOW IT’S STRUCTURED
Each child has an individual goal. Mental health professionals help patients tackle those goals, working often with emotions and coping, social settings, and basic functioning skills.
The trauma-focused day treatment will deal mainly with children ages 3 to 7. Those under 21 can receive services at home, offered through each Lorenz Clinic, Dr. Lorenz said.
In the preschool age range, children interact in small groups of no more than six. Staff said therapy rooms will be set up with preschool activities that target fine motor skills and let children work together.
Fleming offers an example.
“We might have a child who has a goal of being able to put words to his feelings. Staff are helping him to kind of work through those frustrations with the peers,” she said.
Fleming said lots of families and children are at risk of losing child care or educational support because of behavioral problems.
“It can be hard to keep kids safe,” she said of those environments.
Dr. Lorenz agreed, adding it helps to have trained professionals guide behaviors and conversations. He calls them “calm regulation partners.”
“Overall, it’s really tough to expect kids to be able to regulate themselves emotionally and behaviorally if bigger, stronger, wiser adults can’t,” Dr. Lorenz said.
He said that level of care is much higher than what’s available in typical daycare or school.
ANSWERING A CALL
Both Dr. Lorenz and Fleming said this type of intensive, trauma-focused service hasn’t been done much around the southwest metro.
“Right on the edge of the metro is a really interesting place for a lot of reasons,” Dr. Lorenz said.
He noted how important it is to expand access to those not immediately in the metro area, and is excited to work with many groups and people of different backgrounds.
“The surrounding community is just so diverse,” Dr. Lorenz said. “Our staff is pretty prepared to work from a multicultural standpoint.”
He said the clinic has interpreters ready to work with children who speak languages other than English.
Fleming said access is important, especially in an area like Chaska.
“Being able to increase access for families who are in need of this — children have needs for more intensive services and there's very little access to it,” she said.
Families can give the clinic a call with or without a referral. Children then undergo a diagnostic assessment, needing to meet certain criteria of impairment and functioning.
The preschool-aged trauma-focused program runs all year long and doesn’t follow a school calendar, Fleming said. Every 90 days, a child’s treatment plan is reviewed.
The intensive period entails two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions, each serving a handful of patients. After the center-based treatment, children are expected to move to an outpatient program that keeps track of their progress and goals.
The Lorenz Clinic works with insurance, which typically determines coverage based on medical necessity.
Fleming said concern has been raised about transportation since it can be a barrier for families. She said some insurance will cover medical transportation, but no vehicle company is set to partner with the clinic.
The clinic is set to open around April 1, 2020.