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Blank Children’s STAR & Development Center Awarded $225,000 Legacy Grant


Blank Children’s Hospital was recently awarded a $225,000 Legacy Grant from Prairie Meadows in support of its STAR (Support Teams for Achieving Resilience) & Developmental Center expansion project. This gift completes the $5,000,000 fundraising campaign to expand the STAR & Developmental Center through a new facility constructed in West Des Moines at 4055 Westown Parkway.

“This expansion project is core to the mission of Blank Children’s Hospital and helps vulnerable children in our community thrive – despite their circumstances. Prairie Meadows’ partnership and support means we are able to help more children and families have access to the early interventions and specialized care they need to reach their fullest potential,” said Dr. Steve Stephenson, President and Chief Operating Officer, Blank Children’s Hospital.

Children who are victims of abuse, exposed to drugs, are in the foster care system, have physical, behavioral, or developmental conditions are some of the most vulnerable children in our community. They need care from a team who understands their unique needs. The STAR & Developmental Center helps address these needs with highly-specialized medical care and mental health care. Because the demand for these services has grown significantly, an expansion project began in 2019 to transform care with the goal of hiring more specialized providers, caring for more children, reducing wait times, and helping families sooner. In March 2020, the new facility opened its doors just as the pandemic was beginning in Iowa. Despite the pandemic, however, the Center remained open serving children and families from across Iowa. This expansion project was made possible by a generous community of donors who are committed to the overall health and well-being of children and families.  

“At Prairie Meadows, we are dedicated to transforming the lives of those living in Central Iowa. We are proud and excited to support this and many other projects in our community,” said Julie Stewart, Prairie Meadows’ Vice President of Community Relations. 

Since 2002, Blank Children’s has provided a culturally competent, multidisciplinary response for abused children in Central Iowa. The program, started by Dr. Rizwan Shah, was known as the Regional Child Protection Center and grew significantly over the years to include many other services. Today, the program is now called the STAR (Support Teams for Achieving Resilience) Center. The STAR team of specialists have a thorough understanding of how traumatic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact the health and well-being of children. They work to increase a children’s resiliency, ability to thrive, and help them get back on a path to a happy and healthy childhood. Services include: Child Advocacy Center; Foster Care Clinic; Drug Endangered Children Clinic; and Growth and Nutrition Clinic.

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In 2012, Blank Children’s opened the first Developmental Center in Central Iowa, with the support of Prairie Meadows. Approximately 17% of all children born in the U.S. have a developmental or behavioral condition. Less than half are properly diagnosed before age 5, by which time they face significant delays in cognitive, social, and physical development. These delays have lifelong consequences. The earlier children receive a diagnosis and intervention, the more they can maximize their potential. Common conditions treated at the Developmental Center include: Autism, Down Syndrome, Genetic Anomalies, Attention and Sensory Disorders.

Since opening the new facility in 2020, more than 4,150 children have been served, two new providers have been hired, and mental health services have been expanded. 

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