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Family Voices Colorado believes that parents of children with special health care needs should not be alone when they face the scary and confusing task of securing care for their children. Every day we give parents the information and strength they need to navigate complex health care systems in order to get things like wheelchairs, oxygen, or surgery for their children. With our help, parents are able to be the heroes their children are counting on.

Staff Spotlight: Suzette Elledge

Suzette Elledge is the Program Manager for Health Coverage, formerly responsible for coordinating the Medical Home Certification program, now moving into a role overseeing Family Voices’ involvement with the new health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado. Although her employment with Family Voices Colorado (FVC) began in 2009, she first got involved with us some 12 years ago, when her two sons, Jacob and Joshua, were diagnosed with autism.

Suzette with her two sons
Suzette with her two sons

Suzette explains, “Their diagnosis came only months apart and Joshua was receiving Early Intervention and Jacob was receiving services through a preschool program. My service coordinator shared resources with me and I called Family Voices to get help understanding everything that was happening and how to stay on track with their services.”

But prior to that diagnosis, Suzette had already accrued 17 years’ experience working in disability and family support service systems. She began working with families of children with special health care needs at the ARC of Sacramento (California) in 1984; studied Occupational Therapy and Psychology at San Jose State University; worked with Family Support Services of the Bay area in Family Preservation, Respite and Family Services; and taught at the Morgan Center in California.

After receiving her sons’ diagnosis, she says, she “decided not to continue to work in direct services since I was encompassed with them at home, but wanted to continue to serve families, so I worked as an Early Intervention Service Coordinator at Developmental Pathways.” She was working for CHP+ outreach and enrollment in 2007 when FVC approached her about joining the Board, and two years later, when a position opened up in the Family Support 360 program, she jumped at the chance to join the staff.

Susana Herrera and Suzette Elledge at Hearts on Fire 2012
Susana Herrera and Suzette Elledge at Hearts on Fire 2012

Those who know her well have experienced Suzette’s bubbly personality, her love of Tinkerbell and glitter; and her unabashed enthusiasm for her work:

“The absolute best part of my work is the people. From those I work with to those who I get a chance to collaborate with in the community, and especially the families. I have worked with probably thousands of families over the past almost 30 years and I continue to be inspired and humbled by the dedication and strength that I witness. When a family receives a diagnosis, whatever it is, it seems that something incredible happens: a strength, devotion and resilience that drives a determination that is both powerful and tender. I learn lessons every day from the experiences that I share with families.”

This summer, Suzette is working with Ileana Perez to prepare for FVC’s new role as an Assistance Site in Colorado’s Connect for Health Assistance Network. Suzette sees this work as aligned with the organization’s orientation toward staying on the forefront of new developments in the health care landscape so as to better assist consumers, especially families of children with special health care needs, who are often more frequent and more intensive users of systems than those with typical children and adults.

The work itself involves providing in-person assistance to customers of the new health insurance marketplace starting in October 2013. As part of the Connect for Health Assistance Network, Family Voices will serve clients across the state, helping individuals and families consider health plan options, apply for insurance affordability programs, and sign up for health coverage. Although anyone can call any assistance site, the focus for FVC’s outreach and support will be families of children with special health care needs.

Suzette is currently working on a degree in nursing from Colorado Christian University, and looks forward to serving families and individuals in a new way once her program is complete. In the meantime, she is a strong advocate not only for the families she serves, but for the organization as well:

“The most exciting thing Family Voices has to offer families is a team of people with an incredible amount of knowledge and understanding of the world of disability and what it takes to negotiate that successfully. We also work diligently at building and maintaining strong community partnerships so that we can have beneficial relationships with other entities and the work for families can be strengthened. The team understands the intricate rules and languages of systems and works with families to strengthen their knowledge and confidence. Families can know that they are not alone on this journey and I’m exceptionally proud to be a part of an organization that can say that.”

 

Next article from July 2013 newsletter: Bridging Hospital and Community: Family Navigator program expands.

Guide to Transition: New tool available

"Guide to Transition" tool is a paper wheel that displays transition goals and tasks by age and life domain
Our new Guide to Transition.

In recent years, the transition from pediatric to adult health care providers and systems has become a pressing issue for families of young people with special health care needs. Finding adult health care providers who are experienced and willing to accept emerging youth with complex needs can be difficult, and young adults are often unprepared to manage their health care and exercise increased independence. Advance preparation and intentional partnering with your health care providers can assist in a successful pediatric to adult health care transition.

Since 2011, with the support of The Colorado Health Foundation, Family Voices Colorado has been working on a pilot project to develop consistent tools and processes that support youth and young adults with special health care needs in the transition from pediatric to adult care. Our first tool is a Guide to Transition, now available in print as a wheel that turns to display the tasks for each age level in five different domains: Life Skills for Emerging Adults, Family Involvement, School, Career Planning, and Health/Health Coverage. You can also view the content of this tool by age or by life domain here on our website.

Request your hard copy of the Guide to Transition now! Just $5 per wheel (plus shipping), and bulk discounts are available for schools, health care providers, and partner agencies who want to distribute them to families who will find them helpful. So you can take a look at this great new tool, the first copy is free to established clients and partners when picked up from our office. You can see all the information in the guide through links at our Transitions page.

Learn more about Navigating Health Care Transitions, request information on the Guide to Transition, or contact Susan Hogarth, Family Navigator, at 303-577-0331 (direct) or 800-881-8272 x115, or email susanh (at) familyvoicesco.org.

Family Voices Colorado selected for the Connect for Health Assistance Network!

We recently learned our application was approved to become an Assistance Site with Colorado’s Connect for Health Assistance Network! This means Family Voices Colorado will be one of 58 organizations providing in-person assistance to customers of the new health insurance marketplace starting in October.

Read the full press release from Connect for Health Colorado

Family Voices Colorado (FVC) has nearly 20 years’ experience helping consumers navigate both public and private health insurance  applications, eligibility, benefits, and appeals. Specializing in resources for families of children and youth with special health care needs, FVC will continue this focus while also being available to others needing help understanding their options in the new health insurance marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.

As part of the Connect for Health Assistance Network, FVC will serve our community across Colorado, helping individuals, families and small employers better understand the new landscape of health insurance. At least two of our staff will serve as Certified Health Coverage Guides, providing unbiased assistance with considering health plan options, applying for insurance affordability programs and enrolling in health coverage. In addition, we will conduct outreach and public education about Connect for Health Colorado and the range of health coverage and financial assistance options.

View the complete list of Assistance Sites

We here at Family Voices Colorado are honored to be chosen for this role and excited to begin helping individuals and families better understand how health insurance works under the Affordable Care Act and Colorado’s own health care reform efforts!

ConnectforHealthLogo-centered2More about Connect for Health Colorado

Starting in October, Connect for Health Colorado will offer individuals, families and small employers a new online marketplace for health insurance and exclusive access to new up-front financial assistance, based on income, to reduce costs. Customers will shop through a website and get expert help in person and over the phone from a network of customer service professionals, including Customer Service Center Representatives, Health Coverage Guides and certified health insurance agents and brokers. The marketplace is a public, non-profit entity that was established by a 2011 state law. More information is available at www.ConnectforHealthCO.com.