The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder continues to grow, with one in 54 kids being diagnosed. As a result, the demand for therapists and other specialists far outpaces the supply. That’s why Indianapolis-based Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers is planning a major expansion and founder Kim Strunk tells Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta the goal is to increase access to appropriate care in communities with unmet needs.
Hopebridge is one of the largest autism therapy healthcare providers in the country with centers in six states. Last month, the company detailed plans to add up to 20 locations and hire more than 2,700 employees.
“Obviously, the priority is providing excellent care for these children and their families,” said Strunk. “But the other thing when we go into a community is to be a partner with that community and provide jobs. So we will end the year 2021 by offering 400 new jobs just in the state of Indiana alone, so with all of our expansion opportunities, we continue to bring specialists in; those specialists are licensed professionals that are coming into those communities to provide jobs.”
Strunk says the goal with each center is to become a one-stop shop for a variety of services, particularly diagnostic services.
“A lot of children run into kind of a bottleneck in being able to access intervention because they don’t have a diagnosis and sometimes, the wait list can be up to a year in order to get diagnosed. So we brought diagnostics into our service mix in order to help increase that access.”
Strunk adds the pandemic has made things very difficult for children with special needs and their families who are trying to maintain continuity of care.
“That’s been a real challenge for services that get interrupted. You lost that continuity of care and it’s so critical to avoid any type of regression in their skills,” she said. “The other is social isolation and for children with autism, social skill development is really a hallmark challenge for them and so the isolation that the social distancing and the restrictions have put onto these families has only compounded that.”
As these challenges have come to light, Strunk says the need for Hopebridge’s services is more apparent than ever.
The new centers will be located throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona and Colorado. You can view a list of job opportunities by clicking here.