CEO’s Message to the Community

Everyone knows someone who has been touched by autism; the numbers are astounding. 1 in 59 children have received an autism diagnosis, and that number is growing each day. But there are other communications challenges besides autism that cause unnecessary hardship for children and families. The fact that 1 in 4 children enter kindergarten with a treatable language delay and 1 in 3 seniors have a hearing loss is unacceptable. Once a family receives news of an autism diagnosis or communication challenge, they often feel isolated and confused. Who do they turn to? Navigating the fragmented infrastructure of resources in our region is overwhelming and stressful. Who can parents trust with the care of their child

Additionally, once care providers are identified, coordinating various therapies in multiple locations causes additional burden on the entire family. The cost of therapy inhibits many families from seeking care. An increasing number of families cannot afford therapies, much less miss work to manage their child’s schedule. While a few insurance plans cover some of the costs, recent cuts to reimbursement rates and Medicaid coverage have made the cost of care for a child with autism prohibitive even for middle income families. Doesn’t every child deserve the opportunity to live up to their full potential?

While some elementary schools offer programs for children with communication challenges, the benefits of early intervention, prior to school age, are evident. With the right care early on, children with autism and communications challenges have a much higher chance of transitioning into a typical classroom which sets them on the path to becoming independent and contributing members of society into adulthood. Due to a lack of leadership in the autism space in our region, there is a corresponding lack of community understanding of what autism is and how to appreciate individuals in our society with autism.

The Emerge Center partners with children, families, physicians, and the community to foster a safe and comfortable world for children with autism and communication challenges. We provide coordinated therapeutic care under one roof. Our unique, spacious, and inviting facility offers Speech, Occupational, and Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapies in addition to social work counseling, audiology services, and our Bloom program. The families that we serve see the organization as a beacon of hope for the success of their children. We focus on the goal of integrating children into a typical classroom environment, and we provide customized therapies and counseling resources that are based on a model of excellence and expertise. When a family comes to Emerge, they receive more than therapy, they are connected to a network of care providers, parents, and other children who understand and support them through the challenges that they face. We understand the value of empowering children, parents, grandparents, and the community with strategies and methods to manage a child with communications challenges. Additionally, our generous corporate and individual donors allow us to reach more children in the region.

With nearly 60 years of experience, we have implemented, tested, and proven the innovative therapies that shape our model. Since our years as the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation, we have developed a reputation as a thought leader in the region and have formed partnerships with top physicians, community organizations, and universities to ensure that we provide the best resources for our children. Most importantly, we extend access to all children through tuition assistance and scholarship programs. As a result of our evidence-based methods, compassionate staff, and network of influential partners, we have earned a reputation of trust and quality.

The Emerge Center produces more than individual progress, we provide a renewed sense of hope for those touched by autism: children, families, and the greater community. Funds contributed by our gracious donors allow us to expand our reach so that we can provide early interventional care, regardless of the severity of a child’s challenges or a family’s ability to pay. With the support of the Emerge Center, children are given a chance to reach their full potential. Many of the children we touch transition into a mainstream elementary or high school. We take pride in our ability to move the needle through individualized care delivered by a compassionate, collaborative, and knowledgeable staff. External funding also allows us to improve and innovate on our model so that we can replicate and grow our reach beyond the region to provide opportunities for success to more children and families.

Melissa Juneau, CEO



Photo credit: BRAF Currents Magazine