Christy and Kell Russell founded the Kinera Foundation in 2012 as a result of their growing frustration with the lack of available, affordable and accessible services in eastern Maryland for their child, who had recently been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
The limited availability of services, complications with insurance coverage, the lack of communication among providers, the travel time required to get their son to his medical appointments, and coordinating those appointments with their busy work schedules were just some of the frustrations the Russells were facing. With hope and determination, they started their own nonprofit foundation, aiming to bring comprehensive services and programs—all under one roof—for children with developmental disabilities to families living on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
What began as a parent-to-parent support group has since grown to comprise a hub of services at one location in Stevensville, on Maryland’s Kent Island. The hub opened its doors in July 2016, offering collaborative, interdisciplinary care for children with disabilities and their families, with services and interventions including occupational and physical therapies, psychological services and periodic specialty clinics.
Additionally, Kinera has partnered with the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Genetics for People with Special Health Care Needs. This partnership enables the hub to make nurse care coordination available to families.
While the foundation has grown significantly over the past five years, much work remains to be done to offer truly comprehensive services. The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) is currently working with Kinera to develop a new business model for the organization, to identify new services and providers for the hub location, and to help MCDD collect useful data about how its services impact families living in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. Many parents, for example, have requested that behavioral therapies and medication management be added to the list of services offered at the hub.
MCDD and Kinera will be working together over the next year to identify ways to increase the number and diversity of services available at the Stevensville hub. They’ll also be looking for ways to diversify funding options and build partnerships with other organizations across the state in ways that will help them continue to serve as leaders of innovative programming on the Eastern Shore.