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KidsTLC: Transforming Lives through Mental and Behavioral Health Support

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When you think of health and wellness, do you factor in your mental wellbeing as well as your physical capabilities? “Summer is a great time to do a little inventory,” said Dr. Erin Dugan, CEO of KidsTLC, a nonprofit whose goal is to transform lives in our community through access to mental and behavioral health services that support the whole family.

“Take a deep breath and make sure that you’ve prioritized yourself and your mental health,” she said. “Before things gear back up and the school year gets started and kids are running a million different places, make some time for yourself.” Erin’s been the CEO for KidsTLC for five years and she knows what she’s talking about.

Helping Children and Families
KidsTLC was founded in 1972 by Johnson County Young Matrons who wanted to assist abused and neglected children. The organization has grown to provide support and services to children and families “experiencing mental and behavioral health challenges, developmental trauma and autism.” Erin said, “We really believe in the continuum of care and in step-up and step-down services. We have kids that live on campus 24/7, and when they’re ready, they might step down into our intensive outpatient program, where they come after school four nights a week and their parents are involved. Then they can step down to visit a therapist one or two days a week with parents joining in every other week. And they can also step up if they need more services. There’s a continuum of care all in one place as their needs are met.” The majority of services are provided at the KidsTLC Campus, which can be seen on the east side of I-35 just south of the Olathe Santa Fe exit.

“For our residents that live here on campus, we have a school run by the Olathe Public Schools, staffed by school district personnel and teachers, that uses the district’s curriculum. It’s a fantastic partnership,” Erin said. “They go to school every day, get a high-quality education, and yet remain on a therapeutic campus so they can really continue to receive those intensive services.”
Additionally, KidsTLC has “an outstanding clinic for children with autism, serving kids from 18 months to typically about 12 years of age. We keep our staff-to-client ratios at one-to-one as we utilize applied behavior analysis, or ABA, speech and occupational therapies to work on a variety of skills to get them school ready,” Erin described.

A Culture of Care
KidsTLC’s business is caring for children and families. To Erin and the KidsTLC leadership team, the staff who work there are equally important. “We use the phrase on campus ‘making sure we’re taking care of the people that are taking care of the kids,’ and it is a really large focus and priority that we attend to our staff. This includes the staff’s mental health and making sure they feel safe emotionally,” Erin said. “We have a director of holistic wellness, and we take our staff’s health seriously.” KidsTLC provides wellness stations, where a selection of water, fruit and protein is provided to keep their staff physically healthy. “We check in regularly to see how to make our staffs’ lives better so that they’re more focused at work and on the work they do.” This includes mentoring and providing a culture of wellness. “It’s a tough world right now and caring for others is a hard job, but we show our staff that they matter to us,” Erin continued. “We’re interested in their wellness. If we want them to help others with their mental health, we’ve got to show them we care about theirs. Taking care of our staff is as important to us as taking care of the kids and the families that are part of KidsTLC.”

Wellness Focused
Erin suggests you “do a personal inventory of your own mental health and reach out if you need help. Just like going to the doctor for sports physicals before we start the soccer season, let’s start reaching out to therapists and counselors and making sure we’re mentally well.” She wants to normalize taking care of your mental well-being as much as you care for your physical health and your loved ones’ health. “I can’t emphasize enough that, just like KidsTLC says we’ve got to take care of the staff that are taking care of the kids, families need to make sure the parents are taking care of themselves as well.” That includes everything on the spectrum of health and wellness, from eating right and exercising to taking time for self-care and reaching out to experts and doctors for help when you need it.

For more information about KidTLC, visit


Save the Date
Help transform lives in our community by participating in KidsTLC’s largest fundraiser, Benefit23.

Date: October 7, 2023
Location: J. Rieger & Co. distillery
Details: 6:00 p.m. VIP cocktail hour; 7:00 p.m. registration
Attire: Cocktail or elevated pajama party
Activities: Custom cocktails, delicious food stations, creative photo opportunities and virtual and live auctions.