When people could no longer come to Little City programming, it was the staff of the Home-Based Program that answered the call and brought Little City to those who needed it. With more than 300 families across Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties, the Home-Based team was tasked with keeping all those families connected to local resources, engaged in support programs and linked to one-on-one therapy sessions through Little City.

The program became a true lifeline for families who saw firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their loved ones with developmental disabilities. As buildings and programs closed in March and remained inaccessible through the summer, people like Jarrod started to regress. Jarrod had been going to Countryside Center since 2011 and the closure caused significant regression at first, his mother Teri said. While she was concerned about his depression, anxiety and lack of functioning, Little City’s Home-Based team helped make all the difference.

She said Kat Kedryna, Director of Home-Based Services, has helped Jarrod regain his self-management skills, coping skills and the ability to regulate emotions.

“Kat is extremely flexible and is willing to make suggestions as well as getting my input on what is working and what isn’t,” Teri said. “Current sessions are via tele-health and he really looks forward to them. She is so quick to praise him and seems to understand what motivates him. She’s the best.”

These success stories have been frequent in 2020 for the Home-Based team. Whether it is helping a family connect with resources to get an adaptability van, encouraging socialization through activities like pen pal programs or providing therapy sessions to promote skill growth, hundreds of families have benefited from the work of the Home-Based team. Kat said it has been inspiring to see the life-changing work her team has accomplished and the passion they have maintained all year despite the difficult circumstances.

“We’ve remained flexible and creative in order to continue to meet the unique and changing needs of our clients in virtual and in-person settings,” Kat said. “We’ve developed new ways of communicating with families and really strengthened relationships with community partners.”

Part of those strengthening relationships has been providing services such as training, consultation, and contracting with other agencies including daycares, school districts and foster care agencies. The Home-Based team’s expansion into supporting those agencies has helped close service gaps in communities throughout the area.

Little City Executive Director Shawn Jeffers said 2020 challenged Little City to meet people where they are and the Home-Based team more than answered the call.

“So often we can see and celebrate the success of what happens in our buildings and at our homes, but the truth is Little City’s reach extends far beyond that,” he said. “Because of the work of Kat and her team, Little City made life-changing differences for people in the community who would have otherwise been isolated from vital resources and services.”