HCN News & Notes

ServiceNet Names Michael Hutton-Woodland Director of REACH Program

NORTHAMPTON — Michael Hutton-Woodland has been named director of ServiceNet’s REACH program.

Last year, REACH provided services to 500 children, including babies born with physical or mental disabilities, toddlers whose speech or motor skills are delayed, and children diagnosed with autism. REACH staff — from physical therapists to speech pathologists — provide interventions during the critical development window of birth to age 3. A key part of the program is support to families to address the deep, often painful concerns parents have for their young child. The program is available to all families who need the service, regardless of their ability to pay.

After many years of teaching clinical psychology, running a health foundation, and private consulting, Hutton-Woodland is grateful to be serving young children and their parents in this role.

“It’s wonderful work,” he said, “and the staff are all dedicated, loving, caring, skilled, thoughtful people. They go into people’s homes to work with their children. That’s a sacred occupation.”

Since starting at REACH, he’s been sitting down individually with all 45 staff members to learn about their experiences. He brings some new ideas for streamlining program processes so staff can focus more of their time on direct services and less on paperwork, with a goal of ensuring that staff remains “passionate and excited.” He added that “these kids and families need to be helped now, when a child’s brain is growing and developing the fastest in his or her entire life.”

Since the program works with any family whose child needs early intervention, REACH also navigates the effects of two troubling trends: homelessness and increased referrals by the Department of Children and Families. Whatever a family’s situation, Hutton-Woodland emphasizes that “this is prevention work, available to all children with developmental issues, all of whom are very, very special little babies.”

Families can contact REACH to inquire about services at (413) 665-8717. Staff members include educators, nurses, nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, social workers, and autism specialists. The program serves Hampshire and Franklin counties and the North Quabbin area of Worcester County. REACH services are funded by private insurance, Medicaid, the state Department of Public Health, United Way of Hampshire County, and an annual participation fee from families.

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