As you know, parents of teens with disabilities tend to be anxious about what will happen once high school ends.
Project Independence provides free workshops to help parents who have children with disabilities learn about options for their children once they leave high school. The project also trains youth from ages 14-21 about their options after high school.
A disability should not hamper a person to live their life to the fullest. We share with participants how to obtain employment in the community, assist in applying for college and vocational school, as well as support with life skills. Statistics shows that people with disabilities earn about two-thirds of the median earnings of people without disabilities. They are less likely to attend higher learning, and more likely to live below the poverty line. Project Independence wants to change that.
There will be 2 strands of workshops: One for parents and one for youth. It will be for 5 Thursdays starting October 11th ending November 8th, and a college tour on Saturday, November 3rd. The time of the workshops will be 6:00 – 6:30 for dinner, and 6:30 – 8:30 for training. Here is a link about the project.
Looking back over the past year, Family Voices Colorado has a lot to be proud of:
We served more than 11,500 families and 4,500 professionals from June 2012 to May 2013, through a combination of direct assistance, trainings, print and electronic resources, and our Family-to-Family Health Information Network.
As a result of assistance/training provided by Family Voices Colorado, 91% of families report being better able to partner with health care providers in decision-making, 97% report that they are better able to find and/or learn about community services, and 94% report more confidence in getting necessary health care and services for their child with special needs.
Our team works hard to support families through the challenging tasks of securing services and resources for their children, and we celebrate when evaluations demonstrate that we are achieving our goals. You can read more about the context for our work in this Colorado Data Briefprepared by Family Voices National.
In the last year, we have also launched two new program areas: Life Coaching through Your Life. Better. 24/7., and Health Coverage guidance through the Connect for Health Colorado Assistance Network. Through these programs, we are supporting young adults with behavioral health challenges in developing skills and making choices that will enable them to thrive, and helping individuals and families understand their options under the new health insurance marketplace.
While our mission continues to focus on children and youth with special health care needs, we have identified a need for greater support to families and young people through the first part of adulthood. The transition from pediatric to adult health care systems can be challenging for any family, and those who live with disabilities or complex medical needs often encounter even greater obstacles to securing the services and support they need. Our Guide for Transition (also known as the “Transition Wheel”) was released to guide families through the tasks for each stage of adolescence approaching adulthood, and is now available in several other states through the national Family Voices network.
Finally, we expanded the hospital-based Family Navigator program from one staff person at Children’s Hospital Colorado to three staff, two of whom are at Children’s and one at Denver Health. We envision continued growth in this area as we demonstrate the tremendous benefits to children and families when they can receive referrals to community-based resources and services before leaving the hospital.
As we look forward to the months ahead, 2014 looks just as promising as 2013. For the past several months, we have been developing plans for a new project that will provide Personal (electronic) Health Records (PHRs) to support greater care coordination for low-income clients. These PHRs will be owned by the individual rather than by their health care provider. The planning stage has been funded by a grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, and we will soon apply for funds to support the full implementation of this vision.
Other areas of focus in the coming year include:
Expanding our capacity to assist families, who are calling in ever increasing numbers
Continuing to make sure that families’ voices are heard in policy conversations
Helping families navigate Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act
As we gear up for another exciting year, we hope you will join us for Hearts on Fire, which in 2014 will be a special Valentine’s Day happy hour fiesta. Be sure to register now to get the best price on tickets! Whatever your romantic status that day, we hope you’ll come and “wear your heart on your sleeve” for children and youth with special health care needs.
As always, we are grateful for your continued support and partnership with Family Voices Colorado in so many ways. If you need help navigating systems, accessing services, getting health coverage, or building capacity for system change, please give us a call!
Making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs