“At the RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders at the Valdosta Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, we provide two different services to our community, both of which are associated with differing costs to the Scottish-Rite Foundation who completely fund these efforts. All services are provided free-of-charge to the clients that we serve in all settings.
We provide language-literacy screenings to approximately 800 kindergarten students per year in the Lowndes County School district. We use a highly accurate screening instrument that allows us to predict those who are likely to experience reading struggles. We have identified over 750 children as at-risk for future literacy disorders since 2020. Identifying these children at an early age allows the schools to provide differentiated instruction to those who we identify, and it also allows the schools to assess the effectiveness of their own teaching methods. The cost for each child that we have screened is $6.
We also provide literacy-based skilled intervention to children both within our on-campus clinic as well as within the local Boys and Girls Club building. These structured literacy-based services are provided twice a week for 50 minutes in individual and small-group settings. We have provided these services as part of an after-school program and also as part of a summer program. We are able to serve approximately 24 children per spring and fall semester and 36 children in the summer. The total cost per semester for this program is $4,000 for the Fall, $4,000 for the Spring, and $5,000 in the summer. This brings the cost to $167 per child in the fall and spring and $138 in the summer. Tutoring services such as these typically cost $50-$100 per hour when provided in private settings and insurance does not typically cover any of these costs.
The Scottish-Rite Foundation has provided us with $14,000-$19,000 per year for the last three years. These costs have covered the screenings, the after-school tutoring program, and the summer tutoring program which has greatly impacted several thousand children in our area. However, the often less visible impact of our program is related to the graduate students of speech-language pathology at Valdosta State University. All of the screenings and all of the treatment are provided by graduate students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. The Foundation's generosity allows us as a department to provide service-based, experiential learning opportunities for the large student body that we serve. Over 350 students have participated in the screenings, the treatment, or both during the last three years. Nearly all of these 350 students will enter the workforce one day as speech-language pathologists. And when they do so, they will be far better prepared to serve the language and literacy needs of their communities due to the experiences that were made possible by the generosity of the Scottish-Rite Foundation. Although this aspect of the program is less externally visible, it is the most vital aspect due to the exponential nature of its impact. Our resources will not allow us to serve all those in need, but if we can equip others, then our reach expands well beyond our own individual time and space.
We cannot say ‘Thank you’ enough to the Foundation as well as to the individual donors who have contributed. We look forward to our continued partnership with you all as we continue to provide these valuable services to our community.”