By: Janet Hoeke, Founder and Owner of WillowTree Mosaics
Recently a friend asked me to join their Wraparound care coordination team as part of the child and family team in the role of family support. The CANS wasn’t used in Idaho when my child was dealing with his serious emotional disturbance, so this was my first exposure to a process I have been advocating for over the last 4 years. Joining this team, I had only an advocate’s notion of what to expect.
I have become close with this family and have come to admire their tenacity, love, and welcoming spirit. There are 8 children, three are adopted, and of the 8, three have significant physical, mental and/or emotional challenges. My “support” for the family has often felt more like listening helplessly and praying for answers I couldn’t supply. When one child’s emotional disturbance peaked last year, tumbling the family into crisis, I sat with them in the hospital, helped them figure out what documents they needed, advocated for alternatives other than discharge back to the home with no supports, and helped them process the onslaught of information, differing opinions and navigation of a system of care that was still being implemented.
This year, their needs are different. Life happened and not just COVID-19 issues. Their entire HVAC system, washing machine, and handicap accessible van all died, permanently, in the span of a couple of months without the financial resources to replace them. These are not the things I had the ability to fix either.
These challenges would never have come up in the system of care I experienced with my son as the old system was solely focused on “what’s wrong with your child” and how to we “fix” them. So, I was pleasantly surprised when the Wraparound coordinator brought up the family’s needs at our very first meeting. This was a real acknowledgement that no single individual has the answers to help this family navigate these intense needs – especially with the temperatures set to soar into the 100s in the coming weeks, but that together we could collaborate, acknowledge that the child’s needs are not the only needs that impact the child and family’s ability to heal, and there is strength in our process.
Within a week, we had accessed a donated washer, picked it up and delivered it to the family, and found an HVAC company willing to go take a look at the problem and at least partially fix the HVAC system so one child wouldn’t experience additional health issues due to the heat. We don’t have a solution to their transportation issues yet, but we are still working on it. Did these things therapeutically impact their child’s needs? No, not directly, and I dare say, in the past model I experienced with my child, these family needs that have a dramatic impact on a family’s ability to provide care and support and manage their own emotional health, would never have been acknowledged, or identified, much less addressed. Were they therapeutically important anyway? Yes, they were.
Experiences like this are taking place all across this country and our world thanks to the CANS. At this year’s TCOM virtual conference, we are having a roundtable discussion on “Different Models using the CANS with Family Support and Advocacy.” We are all at different stages of incorporating family support, peer support, and advocacy, and our models for discussing the child’s and family’s needs and strengths are very different.
In preparation for the roundtable we have discussed successes and challenges of using CANS data within a peer model to drive services without crossing the line into “what you aren’t supposed to do” in your role. What barriers are there to successful family/peer/advocacy roles with the CANS and teaming. How do funding mechanisms, value-based decision making, different models of family and peer support partners, and identification of the various roles in the teaming process impact outcomes for the child and family? What do you do when a member of the team throws down credentials or some other “fact” to overpower another team member?
As facilitators of this year’s roundtable discussion, we are curious about your experience and we would love for you to take a quick couple minutes to fill out a survey that will help set up the conversation we will have at our roundtable.
We hope you will join us at this year’s TCOM virtual conference November 11-13.