We Are LifeScape
When you think about “Who” LifeScape is and “What” LifeScape does, it’s literally our mission. Empowering people to live their best life – a mission established for both those we support and our staff. Our mission-focused approach is why we are capturing national attention.
Two exemplary employees were recently awarded national and state awards:
Newly retired lead teaching assistant Jackie Kocak was named the 2023 Direct Care Worker of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers, or NAPSEC. It currently represents over 200 programs across the country.
Jackie and her husband traveled to New Orleans to receive the award, and she was also honored and recognized by the South Dakota Legislature.
Direct support professional Rebecca Lange was recognized by the Community Support Providers of South Dakota and named one of the best Direct Support Professionals of the year by National Disability Provider Association, ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources.
In the eight years she has worked for LifeScape, not a day has gone by that she has not had a positive impact on the people she supports. Rebecca works hard every day to find solutions to barriers for the people she supports. If it is important to someone, it’s important to her. This isn’t the only award she has won; Rebecca was also awarded the Simply the Best - Excellence in Service Award in South Dakota.
LifeScape wants to take this moment to celebrate Jackie and Rebecca for their excellence in empowering people to live their best life.
Check out our past articles:
Shining a light on LifeScape’s Mission, Vision, Values, and Culture, it’s the LifeScape Way.
Here at LifeScape our employees are incredibly mission-driven. It’s a trend being seen across the nation, employees are seeking purpose not only in their lives, but at work too. They’re looking for deeper relationships, a powerful sense of community, and purpose-driven work.
The LifeScape Way initiative brings our Mission, Vision, Values, and Culture to the top of everything we do. Each month we take one of our Values and focus on it by putting leadership in the spotlight to explain why each Value is important and the role it plays in our day-to-day life. The LifeScape Way Activities Committee then creates activities each month that aim to increase employee engagement, which you might have witnessed for yourself in March. Competition, creativity, and fun was had by employees who dove into creating posters about what the March Value of Respect meant to them. In true “Madness” fashion, a bracket was put together and employees, along with our Facebook fans, got to vote and select the winning poster. Engagement was through the roof! It was an amazing way to see first-hand how the LifeScape community can come together and have fun, while focusing on one of our core Values.
To witness our internal company-wide engagement on Values seep through to every day life is truly remarkable. Our mission to empower people to live their best life is being heard, seen, and felt in everything our employees do at LifeScape. Reading their “Why,” their purpose for being here, seeing how they translate “Respect” into their everyday work and life, and experiencing excitement and drive to learn more about what’s at the center of LifeScape’s Values: Integrity, Compassion, Respect, Safety and Wellbeing, Fiscal Responsibility, Excellence, and Accountability has been an incredible journey.
The LifeScape Way continues each month and our CEO, Steve Watkins will give you a look behind the curtain of why we started this initiative and the journey we plan to take with it.
by Melissa Carrier-Damon, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
After your baby is born, feeding them is one of the first things you do. Sometimes it’s an easy task, and for others, it can be difficult from the very start. After you get breastfeeding and bottling figured out, the next worry is when and how to start solids.
Knowing what to expect as your child progresses with eating throughout the years can be stressful. Like many other areas of development, it’s important to know what to expect as children grow and develop. A good understanding of feeding milestones and development for infants and toddlers up to 2 years of age can help parents identify early concerns. It’s important to note that every child develops at a different pace, and below are general guidelines to keep in mind.
Birth - 3 Months:
- Consuming breastmilk and/or formula from the breast or bottle.
- Latching, sucking, and swallowing should come without difficulty.
- Eating 2-3 oz a feeding, 6-8x/day and sometimes more often if breastfeeding.
4 - 6 Months:
- Beginning to eat pureed baby food and working up to eating up to 3 times per day.
- Demonstrating increased neck and trunk control for sitting, and being fed in a supported highchair.
- Shows interest in food. You may not see this until closer to 6 months of age.
- Eating solids at this age is more for exposure to different tastes versus nutritional needs. A baby’s main form of nutrition should continue to be breastmilk/formula.
6 - 9 Months:
- Baby should now be independently sitting and can hold their own bottle.
- Will readily accept a spoon in their mouth by opening as a spoon is approaching.
- Meltables and mashed/soft table foods are introduced (usually closer to 8-9 months), and babies can tolerate thicker pureed solids.
9 - 12 Months:
- Sitting without the need for external support; however, continues to benefit from sitting in a highchair or booster for eating.
- Consuming small pieces of soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruits, and finger foods.
- Finger feeds themselves.
- Adequately removes food to clear a spoon.
- Able to transfer food (lateralization) when placed on center of the tongue to the side.
12 - 18 Months:
- Eating coarsely chopped table foods.
- Begin to self-feed using utensils.
- Holds and drinks from a cup.
- Uses tongue to move food from side to side in the mouth
18 - 24+ Months:
- Consuming most table foods- including meats and raw vegetables.
- Fed sitting unsupported.
- Self-feeding using utensils by 24 months.
- May refuse to eat certain foods and become more selective. It’s important to continue to offer a variety of foods.
If you have any concerns about your child’s feeding and swallowing skills, it’s important
to seek medical advice from your healthcare provider as early as possible. There are specialists who can help children with feeding issues, including lactation consultants, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists who have specialized training in feeding and swallowing.
Here at LifeScape, we also offer a free feeding/ swallowing screening that can be completed over the phone at 605-444-9778.
4 Tips to Help with Picky Eaters
Parents – take a look at your mealtimes. Are they stressful? Is picky eating or other mealtime challenges preventing you from using that time to connect with one another after another busy day? Breathe easy, as you are not alone. Research indicates that up to 50% of all infants and children will experience difficulties with feeding. What’s important to remember is that early intervention is key, because difficult dinners can negatively impact parent-child relationships. What can you look out for as a parent? There are many behaviors that can indicate difficulty for a child to safely eat including, but not limited to:
- Food aversions, including avoiding textures, flavors, etc.
- Difficulty swallowing and/or chewing
- Coughing and/or choking when eating or drinking
- Poor weight gain
- Eating a limited variety of foods, food groups
- Refusal to eat or drink
If you recognize any of these behaviors, even if you feel your concern is minor, reach out to your child’s PCP to see if your child should be evaluated for feeding therapy. You can also contact LifeScape for a free feeding screening through a fast and easy over-the-phone consultation. You can speak with a feeding specialist who will answer your questions and listen to your concerns, no strings attached. In the meantime, here are a few tips to try at home to make food and eating a more positive experience for everyone at home:
- Exposure - The number one thing that can help prevent picky eating is exposing kids to different foods, and not just once, but over and over. It can take up to 20 times for a child to try (chew and swallow) a new food for them to know if they truly don’t like it.
- Stay Positive - Don't make mealtimes all about what your child will or will not eat. Focus on family time, conversation and having it be a time where you can connect as a family.
- Make Food Fun - Let your kids explore and play with their food. Take non-preferred foods and think of a creative way to prepare them. For example, give your kids some toothpicks, grapes and strawberries and see what they can build! The ideas are endless!
- Get Involved - Bring your kids into the kitchen and have them participate in preparing meals and snacks. This provides exposure to those foods, and teaches a variety of other skills- math, reading, problem solving, following directions.
Remember the end goal is bringing the joy and connection back to the dinner table, for the entire family.
The LifeScape family took time out during the week of September 11th to celebrate and honor our Direct Support Professionals and Teaching Assistants during a national week of recognition. If you're unfamiliar with what our direct care staff and Teaching Assistants do, you're not alone. They are a vital part of the LifeScape mission to empower people to live their best life.
Each and every day they make a difference in the lives of those we support. It's a job that isn't always easy, but is extremely rewarding. During this time of the year, the LifeScape family does what it can to say "Thank You", to ensure our DSPs and TAs know they are appreciated. If you follow LifeScape on social media, you're probably seen the many, many celebrations that took place.
However, if you didn't, we wanted to share with you the messages of thanks from staff, families and the people we support.