Infant Parent Center
● By Style
Photography by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
Having trained under Licensed Clinical Social Worker Ronald Henke for many years, Alison Gardey and Jennifer Kalsbeek were grateful to have their mentor’s support when launching their own starting agency.
In 2008, the trio opened Placerville’s Infant Parent Center (IPC) to provide counseling services for children ages 0-5 and their families, and Henke supervised the project until his passing two years ago. “That journey alone is a gift I will treasure forever,” Kalsbeek shares. “Alison and I have been to numerous trainings with ‘the big guys and gals,’ and no one could touch Ron’s methods and practices. Now that we have taken the torch; our servant model will hopefully provide a lasting benefit to all we serve.”
According to Kalsbeek, the IPC provides a safe and nurturing environment where families can receive professional and confidential counseling and supportive services, including family and individual therapy, home visitation, perinatal consultation, parent-child relationship assessments, and infant/parent psychotherapy at little or no cost. “Opening up and becoming vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do in life, especially with a stranger, and especially when it’s about being a parent,” Kalsbeek says. “We take the time to listen and strategize on what each client wants, and [then] use their desires to create an appropriate treatment process.”
The non-profit agency has doubled in size in the past six years and hopes to continue serving clients with the help of grants, donations and fundraisers like Mud Aide, a mud run and family wellness event taking place March 1 at the Placerville Fairgrounds.
Clinical Director of Marshall Medical Center’s Community Care Network and IPC Board President, Penny Lehrman, B.S.R.N., has been involved with the organization for four years and says she strongly encourages families to take advantage of the IPC’s services. “My experience,” Lehrman explains, “is that early intervention is very important to the future of any child’s mental health and well-being.”
“I have seen over and over again the struggles families face with older children, and when they tell their story, many of the difficulties started very early on, yet there was no one there to support them,” Gardey adds. “I know that preventative services and early intervention works. I am so thankful that I get to be part of the healing and growth that occurs here.”
For Drew* and Shawna*, the IPC provided a fresh start following their son James’* placement in foster care while the couple received treatment for drug abuse issues. According to a client story prepared by Lehrman, when two-year-old James first came to the IPC, he didn’t like being touched, threw tantrums, and became anxious when separated from his parents. As a result, Drew and Shawna experienced a great deal of guilt.
“As both parents forgave their past failures, set limits, and consistently became a part of James’ life, the tantrums occurred less frequently, James began to show joy and delight with his parents, and when upset, he would allow his mother to physically comfort him,” Lehrman wrote. “Where there was hopelessness, a family found healing through the loving support at the Infant Parent Center.”
Visit infantparentcenter.com for more information.
*Names have been changed by the IPC to protect client anonymity.