Tom Rose, Executive Director of Family Voices Colorado

Looking Back, Looking Ahead: Reflections from the Executive Director

Tom Rose, Executive Director of Family Voices Colorado
Tom Rose, Executive Director

Dear Friends and Supporters,

During the past year I have often been asked how Family Voices has weathered this time of transition, and what we are doing to prepare for the upcoming changes to the health care system. In case you, too, are curious, this is what we have been up to:

Infrastructure

Last September we moved our office to the Anschutz Medical Campus, which provides us with a state-of-the-art and accessible office in close proximity to partners like Children’s Hospital Colorado and JFK Partners.  In addition to high quality IT services and upgraded infrastructure, the new office was designed as a call center, which has enabled Family Voices to help more families with timely information and referral services.

Family Navigation

Of course, holistic Family Navigation and Advocacy are still a primary area of focus, with experienced Family Navigators working closely with interns from the University of Denver School of Social Work to assist families. Our internship program provides a rich experience in navigation, advocacy, and call center operations for first- and second-year Master of Social Work students. The renewal of our federal Family-to-Family grant funding has also been instrumental in providing the resources to expand our capacity for information and referral as well as family navigation.

Hospital-Based Family Navigation

Family Navigation services are in high demand, and since the first of the year we have expanded our services beyond the Neurology Clinic at Children’s Hospital to also include the Child Health Clinic.  This year we also began providing navigation services in partnership with Denver Health’s Special Needs Clinic.  We believe our hospital-based Family Navigators can play a key role in ensuring family-centered care, improving quality and outcomes, and reducing health care costs. (See related article for more details.)

Transition Program

Since 2011, Family Voices Colorado has been working on a pilot project funded by The Colorado Health Foundation to develop tools and processes that support youth and young adults with special health care needs in the transition from pediatric to adult care. In that time, the issue of transition to adulthood has become a big topic of discussion at the state and federal level, and Family Voices is well positioned to provide leadership in developing person-centered transition services in a variety of domains.

Our first tool is a Transition Guide that displays the tasks for each age level in five different domains: Life Skills for Emerging Adults, Family Involvement, School, Career Planning, and Health/ Health Coverage. In addition, this program is working to expand the network of adult providers who will accept young adults with special health care needs, and has expanded our transition services to include transition clinics at both Children’s Hospital and Denver Health. We have also recently launched a behavioral health transition program called Your Life. Better. 24/7. More to come on this program in a later edition.

Policy and Advocacy

Family Voices Colorado continues to speak on behalf of children and youth with special health care needs, their families, and the professionals who work with them at the policy level. With so many changes in the systems serving our families, it is critical that Family Voices continues to work closely with its advocacy partners to make sure systems become more person- and family-centered. This past year Family Voices has played a critical role in empowering families to share their stories with legislators and state agencies, explaining how recently implemented laws and regulations are affecting their day-to-day lives.

New Grants, Contracts, Projects and Opportunities

Recently Family Voices was awarded a project/planning grant of $118,000 from The Colorado Health Foundation for a project entitled Personal Health Records and Family Navigation: A Plan to Improve Quality and Expand Agency Capacity.  Over the next nine months, Family Voices will develop a plan for a pilot project that will utilize personal health records (PHRs) to improve the quality and expand the capacity of Family Voices navigation services for children and youth with special health care needs. As part of this project we will be working closely with the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) to identify technical requirements and policy issues related to the connection of PHRs to Health Information Exchanges.

This is a huge opportunity for Family Voices to shape the future of personal health records, their feasibility as a navigation tool, and most importantly their usefulness to our clients and their families. Coming so soon after our selection as an Assistance Site for Colorado’s Connect for Health Assistance Network, this positions Family Voices to contribute in two significant components of Colorado’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Moving on to our work around the state, due to the exceptional work performed by our Western Slope Family Navigator Colleen Roahrig, our contract with the Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families was expanded at their request to nearly $3,500 per month.  This, in combination with Colleen’s successful launch of the Mesa County Family Leadership Training Institute, has significantly increased our impact in that part of our state. Brava, Colleen!

We are pleased with these affirmations of Family Voices Colorado’s position as a trusted community-based and family-driven organization with a powerful voice in the world of health care policy and advocacy for young people with special health care needs. We are currently engaged in an organization-wide strategic planning and business model development project to ensure that we are tackling these challenges and opportunities in the most effective way possible.

Thank you for your support of our organization. Have a terrific summer day!

Tom Rose
Executive Director
Family Voices Colorado

Next article from July 2013 newsletter: Staff Spotlight on Suzette Elledge

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