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  • Need: To address the developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of rural children ages 0-18 in northwest Illinois.
  • Intervention: A centralized facility for children and families facing developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional issues.
  • Results: Florissa continues to increase its referral numbers, expand its sessions and service offerings, and provide more information resources. It also co-located with the KSB Hospital pediatric department, which became certified as a pediatric patient-centered medical home (PCMH).


Florissa logoFlorissa, derived from the Latin root meaning "to flourish," is a centralized service facility for youth and families facing developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional issues. Florissa began after The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) received many referrals for children who, after screening and/or evaluation, were not diagnosed with autism. The result was a population who needed services but had no place to go. In order to make sure that children with other complex issues received the diagnostic services and treatment options they needed, Kreider Services, along with the KSB Hospital, Sinnissippi Centers, and TAP teamed up to form a pediatric Developmental Center in rural Dixon, Illinois, for children and their families.

To streamline workflow and reduce duplication of referrals to outside specialists, the facility houses multiple disciplines on site. The long-term goal is for the partnering organizations to work together on the tedious billing issues to create a user-friendly system for families utilizing the various services.

Florissa also engages with families to provide a support system by which families can share and learn from one another's experiences. Florissa collaborates with community partners to offer various supportive and educational events for caregivers. Sibshop is offered for siblings of children with any type of disability. Other family events include fun nights, partnerships with local libraries and park districts, and other recreational opportunities. Additionally, Florissa houses a resource library for families and providers and offers various training and community awareness events throughout the year. The result is a stronger system of care for children and adults.

Florissa obtained initial funding from a Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Rural Health Network Development Grant. A second Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grant was awarded to focus on developing a pediatric patient-centered medical home (PCMH) and improving care coordination. A third HRSA grant was received to expand the medical home model to other family practice clinics in the area.

Services offered

Florissa offers services in:

  • Early intervention
  • Behavioral health
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychology
  • Screenings and diagnostic evaluations
  • Group and individual therapy
  • Pediatric care
  • Consultation
  • Follow-up services
  • Training and education
  • Support and recreational activities for children and families


For the first 6 months of FY 2014, 28 children were referred to The Autism Program: 19 children were screened and 9 children were evaluated. With grant funds and an expanded scope, during that same six-month period in FY 2017, Florissa referrals increased to 122 children: 51 children were screened and 71 assessments were conducted.

Florissa has continually added to its clinical team to meet the growing needs of the community. In FY 2018, this allowed Florissa to increase the number of children that it's able to provide a direct service to by 45% (from 178 to 258 children). FY 2019 continued to see this growth with an increase of 16% (from 258 to 299 children). In 2021, despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, Florissa provided direct clinical services to over 315 children.

The organization's resource library has expanded its offering selection to include diagnoses other than autism and early intervention materials. These additions have been a direct result of Florissa's transformation into a transdisciplinary program model. In 2019, the pediatric practice, as it moved toward PCMH accreditation, added a full-time social worker as well as child psychiatry one day a week.

As Florissa has continued to grow and expand, it has developed a robust clinical training program. Clinical training opportunities include year-long diagnostic externship/practicum, advanced practicum/clerkship. Under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists, clinical trainees engage in psychosocial evaluation, multidisciplinary evaluation, group therapy, and individual/family therapy services.

Florissa secured additional grant funding for a three-year project through a new partnership with Washington State University (WSU). Florissa staff are in their second year of an innovative intervention at two elementary schools within the Dixon Public School District. Staff are receiving training from the Child and Family Research Unit of WSU Extension to become a CLEAR regional partner center through a National Child Traumatic Stress Network grant. Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience (CLEAR) is a school-based intervention aimed at integrating trauma-informed practices sensitive to students' needs into the school environment by providing ongoing training and consultation to school staff over three years.

Florissa is featured as a rural program example in RHIhub's Rural Services Integration Toolkit Program Clearinghouse.


Some challenges Florissa has faced while implementing this program include:

  • Finding a physical site that is large enough to house partnering entities and multiple disciplines
  • Developing a way to share information among partners while maintaining all required regulations
  • Creating a system for billing that involves multiple provider organizations and types
  • Facing difficulties with the insurance enrollment process since Florissa provides services that fall under both medical and behavioral health
  • Working with local physicians and healthcare providers to convey that Florissa is a referral service, not a threat to their existing operations


In order to make this model effective in other communities, program organizers recommend the following:

  • Reach out for information on multidisciplinary approaches to behavioral healthcare
  • Sell the vision and mission of your organization to local physicians and community members who may need your services
  • Maintain constant communication with patients, family members, program partners, and community members
  • Be open and respectful to everyone who uses and contributes to the organization
  • Be open and seek out opportunities to collaborate

Contact Information

Laura Watters, Director of Florissa and Support Services
815.288.6691 Ext. 226

Behavioral health
Children and youth
Networking and collaboration

States served

Date added
July 10, 2015

Date updated or reviewed
February 8, 2023

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2023. Florissa [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: [Accessed 5 December 2023]

Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.