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Melanie Stinnett, owner and founder of TheraCare Outpatient Services
Photo by Brandon AlmsMelanie Stinnett is the owner and founder of TheraCare Outpatient Services. Purchase Photo

MELANIE STINNETT

Owner and Founder of TheraCare Outpatient Services

Podcast or Book Recommendation: Called to Create by Jordan Raynor | Social Media Handle: facebook.com/MelanieStinnettSWMO/ and @melaniestinnett on Instagram

Breakthrough Moment: “After three years of advocating in Jefferson City with Missouri Disability Empowerment (MoDE), we were able to get the ‘Therapy for All’ bill passed, which resulted in decreased discrimination by insurance companies regarding coverage of therapy services. I realized I can be a voice for families of children with disabilities and make a difference.”

After Speech-Language Pathologist Melanie Stinnett noticed a lack of private practices for kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities, she opened TheraCare Outpatient Services in 2014 as a one-woman show. The practice now has 27 employees and has served more than 2,000 children across 417-land.

Stinnett graduated with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Missouri State University in May 2010. She has since worked in a variety of settings including acute/inpatient care, inpatient rehabilitation, home health care, skilled nursing facilities and outpatient services, which gave her the skills she needed to start her own practice. “I realized children in our community had essentially two options for therapy; they could go to Mercy or they could go to Cox, and both had long wait lists,” Stinnett says. “This is where the dream of TheraCare began.”

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After Speech-Language Pathologist Melanie Stinnett noticed a lack of private practices for kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities, she opened TheraCare Outpatient Services in 2014 as a one-woman show. The practice now has 27 employees and has served more than 2,000 children across 417-land.

Stinnett graduated with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Missouri State University in May 2010. She has since worked in a variety of settings including acute/inpatient care, inpatient rehabilitation, home health care, skilled nursing facilities and outpatient services, which gave her the skills she needed to start her own practice. “I realized children in our community had essentially two options for therapy; they could go to Mercy or they could go to Cox, and both had long wait lists,” Stinnett says. “This is where the dream of TheraCare began.”

TheraCare provides speech, occupational, physical, feeding, dyslexia, assistive technology and music therapy services for children. TheraCare has seen exponential growth since its inception, even enjoying an increase of 14% in gross revenue during the pandemic. Now, with approximately 4,600 square feet of space, the clinic provides services and screenings in nine public school districts, three private schools and teletherapy to children living overseas.

But Stinnett’s impact does not stop with TheraCare. After listening to parents tell stories about their difficulty finding resources for their children and how they felt isolated from their community, she started the nonprofit Include Ozarks in 2016. Include Ozarks provides an annual Sensory Safe Trick or Treat and Sensory Safe Easter Egg Hunt for families of children with special needs. “Each event has brought in 300–500 individuals and helped give families a place where they can enjoy a community event together,” Stinnett says. Include Ozarks also provides monthly parent workshops in collaboration with the Springfield Greene County Library District. “We cover topics like legal planning for children with special needs, navigating school-based services and trauma,” Stinnett says.

Stinnett also frequently advocates at the state level helping push major legislation through for children with disabilities. “It has always been important to me that I am impacting those around me in a positive way,” she says. “My work is not for myself but in service to the people and community around me.

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