Hammitt School Implements Accelerated Track to Gain Teaching Licensure

The Baby Fold’s Hammitt School is taking the initiative to “grow our own” specialized teaching staff! Hammitt School’s newly implemented ‘Grow Your Own’ teacher program was created to help staff who are interested in special education gain their teaching license in one year or less. Julie Stoll, Assistant Director of Academic Services, explains, “Traditionally, you would have to quit your job in order to focus on obtaining a special education license. This program allows Hammitt School staff to attend classes online without sacrificing their current employment. The flexible schedule allows teachers to learn at their own pace and their work with our students qualifies for the required fieldwork.”


Furthermore, The Baby Fold also offers tuition reimbursement to offset half of the tuition cost, as well as an internal scholarship opportunity that covers the entire cost. Stoll notes, “Advancement opportunities are important, so we want to create pathways that help our staff to achieve and excel in their classrooms and personal lives.” Many Baby Fold staff have already begun taking advantage of this incredible opportunity, with ‘homegrown’ teachers serving at all three of our Hammitt School campuses.


The Baby Fold continues to take major steps to offer employees advancement opportunities, continuing education, and fellowships. Even entry-level positions qualify for our comprehensive benefits package, which includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, 403B retirement plan, year-round competitive salary, a mentoring program, and more. Of note, Special Education Program Assistants are surrounded by direct supervisory support and training, so a college degree is not needed to apply.

Help Baby Fold Kids Back to School

Children across The Baby Fold’s 12 life-changing programs are heading back to school next month. You can help make sure every child has what they need for academic success by participating in our back-to-school supply drive or clicking here to make a donation. Our shopping list includes the highest needed school supplies across our programs. Supplies can be dropped off Tuesday, July 26, from 10 am-3 pm at The Baby Fold’s campus at 1500 Ft Jesse Rd in Normal, across from Caliber Collision. Your support helps students grow into the best versions of themselves – thank you

It’s Christmas in July - Festival of Trees is Coming to Town! 

It’s Christmas in July! Plans are well underway for The Baby Fold’s 29th annual Festival of Trees! Mark your calendars because Central Illinois’ premier family-focused fundraiser is returning to The Interstate Center in Bloomington November 17-19. The Baby Fold’s 120th-anniversary celebration will bring new holiday cheer and magical moments to the event.

Community partners are investing in local kids and families by sponsoring The Festival of Trees. More than 40 businesses have already signed up to help children served by The Baby Fold while receiving extensive marketing benefits before, during, and after the event. Sylvester Family Dental, Radio Bloomington, and CEFCU are just a few of the exemplary businesses invested in the health and wellbeing of our youngest citizens. To view the growing list of companies who care, click here. 

Festival of Trees Volunteers Lend Expertise at Glorious Garden Event

Do you ever wonder where the hundreds of beautiful trees, wreaths, and centerpieces come from for The Baby Fold’s Festival of Trees? Highly talented community members create and donate these custom pieces to benefit the children and families served by The Baby Fold.

Last week, a small group of these auction item donors represented The Baby Fold at the Glorious Garden Festival at David Davis Mansion. Our volunteers provided a live wreath-making demonstration, designed custom bows for guests, and had over 40 wreaths, wall hangings, and shelf arrangements for sale to support The Baby Fold’s life-changing ministries. Guests also learned about how to become a Festival of Trees auction item donor. We are incredibly thankful for our amazing volunteers!

Healthy Start Success Story

Early intervention matters!

This young man was recently referred to The Baby Fold. Within one week of beginning Healthy Start services, this little one began to mouth words, bring books to people to have them read to him, and engage with stories.

Keep reading little one; we'll bring you another new book when we see you next!  

Twelve Decades of Devotion: Journey Through the 1960s

In the 1960s, The Baby Fold introduced new ministries to meet the emerging needs of the community. On May 15, 1961, The Baby Fold Board approved the care of infants with intellectual disabilities as well as a new cottage program. The residential cottage provided care for preschool-age children with emotional-behavioral disorders or severe mental health needs. Although the cost would be high for around-the-clock nursing, Superintendents Rev. William and Gwendolyn Hammitt recognized the importance of caring for these children. In the words of Rev. Hammitt, “No such service is available today… I hope we can lead the way in doing something about it.”


The Baby Fold’s social service staff also grew, including caseworkers who specialized in the care of children with disabilities. Caseworkers helped parents to better understand their child’s needs, kept the family up-to-date on the child’s developmental progress, and developed future plans with the family. Illinois State University’s Special Education department provided speech therapy and other special services to the children. 

A testament to the success of the program includes the story of Little Jimmy, a five-year-old boy who suffered from multiple medical conditions and was unable to speak. Upon entering The Baby Fold, he was surrounded by specialized care tailored to meet his unique needs and help him grow. He received speech therapy twice a week and attended kindergarten in addition to Sunday School. Soon after, staff remarked that Little Jimmy had become “a new boy in spirit and outlook!”

The 1960s were a transformative time for The Baby Fold’s programs with the addition of special needs care. Join us next month to learn about our venture into the 1970s!

(Reference: The Baby Fold: An Investment In Humanity, by Elizabeth Glidden, 1992, and The Pantagraph)

Twelve Transformative Programs: Intact Family Services Highlight

As we explore our 12 transformative services throughout 2022, this month we are highlighting one of our preventative programs, Intact Family Services. 

Intact Family Services provides comprehensive case management services, advocacy, support, referrals, and education to families that are in crisis. With intensive in-home support from highly-trained specialists, the goal is to keep families intact and avoid placing children in foster homes, whenever possible. The program helps families assess their strengths and needs, set goals, identify resources, learn new skills, and change behaviors. In 2020, we collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and added Recovery Coordinators to aid clients with substance abuse-related issues. The number of families in the program continues to grow and over 90% of families in the program stay intact. Intact Family Services has a 95% success rate in ending abuse and neglect - what a life-changing program!

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