Even though Heather Quillin is the new children’s services coordinator at Sunflower Diversified Services, she will continue in her role as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) as time allows.
Quillin, a Great Bend native, oversees Sunflower’s Early Education Center (EEC) and Incredible Years Preschool, both at 1312 Patton Road. She assumed her new duties July 1, following Cathy Estes’ retirement after a decade in the job.
“Cathy’s passion for Sunflower has made a lasting impression that will remain for years to come,” Quillin said. “She has helped develop our programs into some of the best in the state, and my goal is to expand on what she started.”
The EEC serves children with developmental disabilities and delays, age birth to 3; its services are free. The preschool accepts any child, age 2-and-a-half to 5; tuition is based on income.
Quillin has been a certified and licensed SLP for nearly six years and served EEC families for three of those years.
“As I take on this new position, I can’t continue to serve children and families in the same capacity,” Quillin said. “However, I will continue to be involved with families in as many ways as I can. I simply am not willing to fully step away from our families.”
Quillin emphasized the confidence she has in the staff at the EEC and preschool. “Everyone here is highly qualified. The community is fortunate to have these experts in early education and intervention.”
The coordinator’s priorities include: continuing the legacy Estes started by providing continuing-education opportunities for staff; and making the EEC and preschool more visible by building even stronger relationships with community partners.
“All of us realize the first few years of life are crucial for a child’s attachment to parents and others, as well as to brain development,” Quillin commented. “We have the expertise to empower families as their children’s delays are alleviated or overcome.
“I am beyond excited to use the skills I have learned at Sunflower,” she added. “This wonderful team has made an impact on so many lives in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We build real relationships with families and demonstrate ways to help their little ones.”
Quillin earned her bachelor’s in communication and science disorders in 2008 and her master’s in the same specialty in 2010. She is certified as an autism specialist and helped develop Sunflower’s Autism Team. In addition, she has helped Estes with administrative duties.
She and her husband, Dan, are expecting a child this summer.
While Estes said it was difficult to leave Sunflower, she knows Quillin is more than qualified for the job.
“Heather has all the attributes of a terrific SLP and early interventionist,” Estes said. “She relates so well to children and families and ensures she meets the specific needs of each child.”
For example, when Sunflower noticed an unusual amount of infant feeding disorders, Quillin volunteered for special training in Texas.
“As I have interacted with Heather, it was easy to see her excellent team-member skills, knack for solving problems and natural leadership talents,” Estes commented. “She illustrates the difference between a manager and a leader.
“Working with a team and a variety of family needs, there is no question that a leader is needed,” Estes added. “It is obvious this will be a smooth transition and I wish the whole team much success. I have no doubt services will be better than ever.”
Sunflower, a non-profit agency, serves infants, toddlers and adults with disabilities and delays in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 50th year.