Karen Flynn – Family of Kidz
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some kids haven’t been getting the support they need.
Many haven’t been able to access their typical support systems, whether at school or in their communities. Others feel isolated at home. For young people in the Long Island, New York, area, Family of Kidz is there to help.
According to Chief Financial Officer Karen Flynn, the organization is expanding its therapeutic and educational services to kids and young people, including kids with special needs and autism. Through its several locations, it has programs for infants and toddlers, school-aged children, teenagers and young adults up to 21 years old. It’s planning to open a new therapeutic and behavioral health center in September 2022.
Flynn joined the organization at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and was asked to assess the current financial process, procedures, software and operations.
“Teamwork and collaboration are essential in making any type of change that makes a real difference in an organization,” she says. “Having a leadership team that empowers you is what makes it successful.”
Consistency is key
With each program operating as an autonomous organization under the Family of Kidz umbrella, each had its own financial software prior to Flynn’s hiring. She’s since moved them away from legacy financial systems to one general ledger system that’s modern and integrates with other financial software. She says it required working with a vendor to transfer historical data to the new system.
“Not only do we have more consistency now, but we can operate more quickly,” Flynn says. “Our financial data is together in one place.”
The change came about because of a new leadership team that didn’t want Family of Kidz operating as different companies. As part of the new team, which is led by CEO Dr. Leonard Caltabiano, Flynn has helped standardize policies and procedures, which has included streamlining hiring and “creating new data driven financial and operational reporting for more visibility,” she says.
“I’ve helped by making sure we’re investing in the right people,” she says. “In addition to hiring good people, we need to make sure we can retain them and help them grow with the organization.”
Consolidating systems has helped save time and money, which she says allows more funds to be used for programs and services. In addition to opening a new center focused on therapeutic and behavioral health care, Family of Kidz wants to expand organically and through small acquisitions.
“Everyone here wants to help as many kids as we can, so it’s motivating to all be driven by that same goal,” Flynn says. “Yes, we have numbers to meet and a board to answer to, but the top priority is providing great care for the kids. And having Dr. Caltabiano, who’s a clinical psychologist, leading us forward has ensured that every decision comes back to the best interests of the kids we serve.”
While Flynn loves working for Family of Kidz, she was hesitant when first recruited for the role because the timing wasn’t good. She was asked to start in September 2019, but her husband needed a kidney transplant, so she declined the offer.
Six months later, Family of Kidz called Flynn to check in. The chief financial officer position was still open and the organization was hoping she’d reconsider. With her 17 years of experience in financial executive roles at healthcare-focused companies, she had what the organization was looking for, she says.
Flynn, who has her MBA in finance from Adelphi University, began her career in accounting. Then, after staying home with her kids, she restarted her career in 2005 at MDEverywhere, a healthcare IT company, where she spent almost six years working as controller and in human resources. She then spent two and a half years at AFTS Labs (now called Cordant Health Solutions), a pharmaceutical testing company with $80 million quarterly revenue, as the director of financial planning and analysis and corporate controller.
Prior to joining Family of Kidz, Flynn was the corporate controller for CHE Senior Psychological Services, a mental health services provider in New York. She says she enjoyed the work but is happy to have now landed at an organization focusing on helping kids.
“I really feel like I’m able to make a difference here at Family of Kidz,” Flynn says. “The fact that they work with kids of all ages really drew me here and it motivates me every day.”
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