Isanhart said CRS realized many children and their caregivers could not access physical therapy within their neighborhoods.
"They were having to go long distances for it and it was expensive," she said, so CRS brought the service to them.
Parents also receive support from the centers. "We give them what's called positive parenting education," Isanhart explained.
The program helps coach parents on how they can relate to their children, and support their child's growth and development.
Isanhart said adult athletes from Special Olympics come in from the community and help run the activities to be role models for both parents and children, "to show them that they, too, can become a healthy, thriving adults."
This has even empowered the athletes, she said, "and given hope to the parents that their child can become an example and a stand-out figure within their community."
In addition to physical therapists and Special Olympics coaches, community health workers and social workers also provide at-home services.
Each family gets home visits to reinforce education on positive parenting, nutrition, and hygiene. The social worker is able to ask how the family is doing and if they need help with tasks such as getting a birth certificate.
"We found that a lot of kids in the program didn't have a birth certificate, which means they cannot access other government services," Isanhart said.
Sometimes a child is born at home and the paperwork never gets processed, or a father leaves the family because of the child's disability and does not sign the paperwork. Often families are overwhelmed by the amount of care a child with intellectual disability needs, so they do not look into it.
"What we're doing is using the social workers to simplify the process for them," Isanhart explained.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Bill Ouko, CRS' project manager, said the community has responded positively to the centers, which have increased participation and support for children with intellectual disabilities.
"For example, male caregivers are now more involved in parenting," he said. Men in the community are even going so far as to spread the word about the centers to other families with special needs children.
One community, he explained, came together to fund monthly transportation for a child in the area to attend the early childhood development center.
"Children who were previously locked away and [who] come to our centers closed off and not socializing," he said, "end up opening up and learning to socialize and play with others."
Ouko stressed the importance education has in making a difference for children with intellectual disabilities: "The community needs it in order to stop the stigma and act as a support structure."
The program is developing a new positive parenting teaching manual meant for caregivers of disabled children, and they plan on teaching women religious in Kenya who take care of special needs children.