With shortage of local counseling and therapy options, Napavine couple opens center in Centralia for children with special needs


Having opened on July 10, the Cornerstone Center for Development in Centralia is a new resource for parents who have children with autism or other disabilities needing outpatient speech, occupational and physical therapies.

It was founded by Sarah and Nick Robbins, of Napavine. 

Cornerstone’s rooms are designed to be sensory friendly while promoting education and rehabilitation. 

The center is located at 1611 Kresky Ave., suite 108, in Centralia. 

Sarah and Nick Robbins sat down with The Chronicle last week to talk about Cornerstone. Currently, they and their staff offer speech and occupational therapy. They plan to start physical therapy for kids on Oct. 9. 

Nick said there is currently a major shortage of the services Cornerstone offers in Lewis County, which drove them to open the center. Sarah said children who don’t qualify for school-based therapy often face waitlists of at least a year to get therapy elsewhere. 

“That’s been the big story we’ve heard from most of the parents, is that they’ve been waiting for so long for somewhere to open up or for spots to open up,” Sarah said. “That’s been our big driving force. We all want to help the kids.” 

Parents are coming from as far away as Longview, East Lewis County and Grays Harbor County for Cornerstone’s counseling services. 

“We also just recently expanded to offer mental health counseling service for kids,” Nick said. 

They plan to start offering social skills classes soon, partnering with Lewis County Parent to Parent, a part of Reliable Enterprises — a Lewis County nonprofit working to help disadvantaged people in the county — which will help connect parents with other resources they might need. 

While the couple is new to running a center, both already have experience in the education field. Prior to opening the center, Nick was a truck driving instructor for J.B. Hunt. 

“I was working as a speech therapist in the Chehalis School District,” Sarah said.

Though the doors have only been open for two months, the Robbins feel like they made the right move. 

“This is definitely a happier life. We’re actually making a difference in people’s lives,” Nick said.

It was Sarah’s dream to have her own practice, and the couple decided it was time after she had spent three years working for the school district. The couple has hired therapists and assistants who have already worked with children.

“Both of our occupational speech therapists come from pediatrics, and so do our COTAs (certified occupational therapy assistant),” Sarah said. 

She added the mental health counselor they recently hired is trained in play therapy, as it’s one of the easiest ways to teach children. 

“If they’re having fun, they learn and they’re receptive,” Nick said. 

Sarah has reached out to other counselors within Lewis County school districts to let them know about Cornerstone’s services. 

They are also working with the In-Tot Developmental Center, another part of Reliable Enterprises, which screens children for developmental delays and connects families with services and resources. 

In-Tot focuses on children between the ages of 1 and 3. Once a child ages out, Cornerstone steps in to continue helping parents, Sarah said. 

Despite having just opened in July, the couple is already looking to expand. 

“We’re already looking for another occupational therapist or COTA, or another counselor,” Sarah said. 

Those interested in applying are welcome to contact Cornerstone. 

Nick said they are thankful for the staff they already have.

“We’ve been blessed with a group of people that really, truly care about the wellbeing of these kids, and we focus on educating the parents as well,” Nick said. 

“Our whole staff is big on the ‘whole child approach,’ so not just, ‘what are we teaching you in the 30 minutes to an hour that we have you, but how can we help parents and family members help you at home,’” Sarah added. 

For more information about the Cornerstone Center for Development and the services provided, visit https://cornerstonecfd.com/ or call Cornerstone at 360-207-4196. Those interested can also message Cornerstone on Facebook as https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100092227081603.