The Rockwell Family Story: Fighting to keep everyone safe

The Rockwell family lives in Littleton, except for their daughter, “Sarah,” who has intense mental health needs and has lived in a residential treatment center for the past several years. The Rockwells approached Family Voices Colorado in 2009 with concerns that Medicaid wanted to send Sarah home, in spite of psychiatric assessments that acknowledged neither she nor her family would be safe if that happened.

Sarah’s parents had already tried to appeal the decision, but encountered one roadblock after another in getting the different public agencies and private companies involved to acknowledge the severity of Sarah’s condition or to take responsibility for continuing to fund her care. Sarah’s mom, Irene, was at her wit’s end as to what would happen if her daughter came home, but did not want to follow one caseworker’s suggestion that she relinquish her parental rights so that the Department of Child Protective Services would take over.

Bringing the right people to the table

Business meeting

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Family Voices was able to help the family gather the appropriate institutional representatives at the table (Medicaid Managed Care Ombudsman, Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., and the residential treatment center) for many meetings of evaluation and negotiation. Finally, the team secured the appropriate documentation from Sarah’s care providers and psychiatrist to convince the funding agencies of the medical necessity of continuing Sarah’s placement, without having to reevaluate the situation on a monthly basis.

Irene, who prides herself on her resourcefulness, has taken the lessons she learned from working with Family Voices to become an advocate for other families facing similar struggles with the health care system.

Support and empowerment

Dina Castro, Family to Family Coordinator

Dina Castro, Family to Family Coordinator (shown here at the 2011 Walk ‘n’ Roll), has worked with the Rockwells for three years

Family Voices helps to move parents beyond the isolation, grief and panic they often feel when learning their child has a disability or chronic condition, or when trying to navigate the various service systems, and puts those parents back in control of their lives and their children’s welfare. Through working with Family Voices, parents are supported and empowered, resulting in stronger families and an increased ability to advocate effectively on behalf of their children.

Families of children with special healthcare needs often access multiple private and public systems. Consequently, they experience the system limitations more quickly than those whose needs are not as numerous or recurrent. By building partnerships among professionals and these families, Family Voices promotes improved decision-making, better outcomes and higher quality healthcare for everyone the systems serves.

Colorado Gives Day is December 4, 2012

Support Family Voices on Colorado Gives Day

Please help Family Voices Colorado continue to support and empower families like the Rockwells by making a donation at GivingFirst.org/FamilyVoicesCODecember 4, 2012, is Colorado Gives Day, when the FirstBank Incentive Fund increases the value of every dollar contributed. You can also set up a recurring gift to provide ongoing support throughout the year. Together, we can make Colorado a better place for children with special health care needs.

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