Community Partnerships: DePaul University Speech-Language Pathology Program

Connecting Communities | May 2022

In April 2022, student clinicians from the new Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Graduate Program at DePaul University began their clinical placement at St. Vincent DePaul Center.  DePaul student clinicians and faculty supervisors collaborate with Sr. Kara Davis to meet the increased need for speech therapy services to children in the preschool program at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services (MSV).

Four years ago, Sr. Kara, a Daughter of Charity and licensed SLP, was sent to MSV to provide speech-language services to preschool children enrolled at both St. Vincent DePaul Center in Lincoln Park and Marillac Social Center in East Garfield Park.  The Marillac St. Vincent Speech & Language Program quickly developed and a caseload steadily grew to meet the needs of children with articulation/phonological impairments, expressive/receptive language delays, and stuttering.  As the children started to receive speech services, it became evident that many children needed additional services (e.g., special education, occupational therapy, etc.), so Sr. Kara shifted to the role of Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) in addition to continuing to provide speech therapy services.  This new role at MSV included submitting referrals for Individualized Education Program (IEP) services, assisting families to dually enroll in a half-day program with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to access services, and coordinating transportation services between MSV and the designated CPS school.

During the summer of 2021, Sr. Kara connected informally with SLPs working to establish the new graduate program at DePaul University and there was immediate interest in forming a community partnership between MSV and the DePaul University Speech and Language Clinic.  This partnership, rooted in the shared Vincentian mission of service, would extend services into the community, providing greater access to working parents unable to take their children to the DePaul Clinic located at the corner of Fullerton and Sheffield.

The first cohort of SLP Graduate Students began their studies at DePaul in the fall of 2021, and the Clinic welcomed their first clients in January 2022.  With a quarter of clinical experience behind them, eight student clinicians were placed at St. Vincent DePaul Center for the first MSV clinical rotation.  Prior to beginning therapy with the children, student clinicians and faculty members participated in an orientation at MSV to prepare for center-based services and deepen their understanding and commitment to the Vincentian mission.  Francine Soliunas, Chief Mission Officer at MSV, provided a mission reflection and guided participants to ponder their call to serve.  Staff from the MSV Development team assisted with a tour of the Center and visited the various programs and services provided.

Student clinician Kaylee Joyce commented, “I’m excited for the opportunity to work in the community and meet some amazing kiddos in the process!”

Currently, twelve preschool children are scheduled for speech-language services onsite at St. Vincent DePaul Center for 30-minute, individual sessions twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays).  Two faculty members from DePaul supervise the student clinicians during their sessions and assist with treatment planning and report writing

Plans to extend DePaul services to Marillac Social Center are in process; however, challenges include establishing two dedicated preschool therapy rooms onsite and coordinating transportation for DePaul Students to come to East Garfield Park.  We are hopeful that plans can be made to begin at Marillac in the next program year.

For more details, please contact Sr. Kara Davis at

For details regarding funding efforts to develop therapy rooms at Marillac Social Center, please contact our Director of Development, Dan Summins at