© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Baby Fold launches Center of Excellence in Bloomington

The Baby Fold in Normal has served McLean County for over a century, and now it’ll do so from an additional location in Bloomington called the Center of Excellence. The nonprofit will use the space at 1701 W. Market St. to host training surrounding trauma-informed care for caregivers and families.

CEO Clete Winkelmann told WGLT The Baby Fold has been in the space for over a year. It was sought as a spot to stage the nonprofit’s annual Festival of Trees, but the value of the larger building soon became clear.

“It's much bigger than just staging for Festival of Trees,” he explained. “It also has a wonderful feel, and it's just a great warm space to do that training.”

Winkelmann said in a speech during a Tuesday ribbon-cutting ceremony that The Baby Fold plans to hold training not just for the local community, but Central Illinois at large. Some of the training will be on topics like Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) model, he added.

Sam Guillory, the agency's vice president of development and public relations, said the goal is to extend knowledge beyond the organization, adding she sees this as an opportunity to train the next generation of clinicians, providers and educators, as well as the general community.

“If we're keeping all of our expertise to ourselves, then that's not fulfilling our mission,” she told WGLT. “We want to help as many children and as many families as we can.”

It’s being funded through Baby Fold’s endowment, Winkelmann said.

Already doing the work

While there aren’t any training sessions immediately on the books, Guillory said some already have been held in the space, including one recently on Theraplay, or play therapy. Guillory said The Theraplay Institute came to present.

Krista Reichert, the adoption support and preservation manager at The Baby Fold, was in attendance. She said guests from the nonprofit, Bloomington-Normal and across the state were invited, which is a goal of this new center.

“Since we're centralized, how can we be the central hub for the practices that we embrace and what we want to continue around the state?” she said.

What to expect from the space

Sam Guillory spoke to WGLT after the ribbon cutting
Emily Bollinger
Sam Guillory with The Baby Fold talks to a WGLT reporter Tuesday.

At the same time, Guillory said Baby Fold staff also can use the space as needed,noting there won’t be staff stationed at the location, but it’s a great place to host a family, for example.

“We have moveable walls, we have moveable tables,” she pointed out. “The configuration was very intentionally made to be flexible so that we can meet the needs of whatever we have coming in.”

Trainings themselves also will be flexible. Guillory said they may be lunch-length or week-long. There’s also technology that will allow for virtual sessions.

They also won’t always feature Baby Fold staff. Guillory said she expects more guest speakers and experts from outside Bloomington — like those from Theraplay Institute — to host trainings at the Center of Excellence, adding a level of accessibility for the local community.

“They don't have to travel across state lines, they don't have to incur those expenses of traveling to receive expert-level education, they can do it right here in your own backyard,” she ssaid.

Others might even be encouraged to travel to Bloomington, said Reichert, adding the training might encourage people to partake in the local economy, such as grabbing a bite to eat. Bloomington's central location doesn't hurt, she added.

“People can get right off the interstate and come here,” she said.

Melissa Ellin is a reporter at WGLT and a Report for America corps member, focused on mental health coverage.