The University of Tennessee Health Science Center LEND Program Collaborates with Community Partners to Launch "All Kids Academy"

July 19, 2023

5 smiling women in business casual attire standing outside with soft-focus hospital logo in the background
5 smiling women in business casual attire standing outside with soft-focus hospital logo in the background

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) LEND program has partnered with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, The University of Memphis, and others to launch All Kids Academy.

All Kids Academy is an innovative program that supports learning and development for hospitalized children with the goal to nurture every child's educational potential in sickness and in health. Priority for direct developmental and educational services will be given to children who are experiencing prolonged hospitalization. All Kids Academy will include internships to prepare early childhood, elementary and secondary student teachers to educate children with special health and educational needs. Student teachers will gain a comprehensive view of educating children who have special needs through clinical teaching experience, academic courses, individual and collaborative research projects, and educational seminars provided by faculty from all collaborating institutions. Interdisciplinary trainees from a variety of other education and health care professions will learn by experience in All Kids Academy and will have the unique opportunity to work together in coordinated care for children.

In phase I, All Kids Academy has launched a pilot program of early childhood learning and development for hospitalized children, from birth to 5 years. Direct services to patients will include one on one teaching, parent support for their child’s learning, and contact with the child’s school or early learning environment. Other patients will benefit from developmental screening and referral to appropriate services and/or information on developmental monitoring when they return home after a hospital stay. Future steps include program expansion to hospitalized children in grades K-12.

Key outcomes of All Kids Academy will include:

  • Early literacy development for children beginning in infancy;
  • In-hospital support of child-caregiver relationships along with community referral to early care and learning programs;
  • Graduation of future teachers, educators and healthcare providers who are well-prepared to teach and care for children in hospital, clinic and school settings; and
  • Modeling and promotion of interdisciplinary principles, family-centered care, and attention to identification and intervention for developmental concerns within our children's hospital environment.

For more information, please contact Toni Whitaker, MD, UTHSC LEND Director, UTHSC and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital Developmental Pediatrics Division Chief at [email protected] or 901-448-3043.