Dear Governor Brown,
This week I’m busy preparing for Valerie’s upcoming IPP, the annual meeting with our Regional Center case manager to plan for the year ahead. Val is turning 30 in May, and every year as we approach her birthday there are a host of meetings and forms and interviews to ensure that she’s still eligible for the services she receives.
As I put together the lists of medicines and doctors’ appointments and try to prioritize needs for the year ahead, I am so grateful for our Golden Gate Regional Center case manager. As you certainly know, California’s service delivery system is complicated and fragmented. We are left to find our own services, and we have to go to many sources to find them. The closest thing we have to a unifying perspective is our case manager.
It’s in this week’s report. Read on for Valerie’s Week in Review. Again, thank you for your time. Again, please restore at least 10% to Developmental Services. And again, you can read this online at http://www.valeriesweekinreview.wordpress.com
VALERIE’S WEEK IN REVIEW
APRIL 24, 2015
My focus this week is preparing for Valerie’s IPP (Individual Program Plan), our annual meeting with the Regional Center to plan for Valerie’s needs in the coming year. Her case manager is coordinating this meeting, and has pulled in other service providers for their input. Our group will include supervisory and direct service staff from Val’s day program, staff from a San Francisco housing agency we’re working with, and Val’s secondary IHSS provider.
It feels especially important this year to be sure that this IPP thoroughly documents all the services that make Valerie’s life work, since we’ll be getting a new case manager next month (someone who hasn’t been hired yet) and we expect some changes in Val’s life this coming year.
The case management piece of Regional Center services, while hard to quantify since it has no dollar amount attached, is in my opinion one of the most important services they provide. With California’s fragmented service delivery system, Val’s Golden Gate Regional Center case manager is one of the only people besides me who has an overview of her life and the myriad of services that keep it running.
He has been an invaluable asset in planning for Val’s future. When Val aged out of the school system at 22, our case manager was the person who knew all the options and worked with us until we had a plan that fit Valerie. He has helped me explore future living situations for Valerie when I’m no longer able to take care of her, and connected me with group homes, Independent Living providers and subsidized housing specialists, so I have the knowledge to make informed choices.
Because I have 30 years of experience advocating for my daughter, because I’m white, college-educated, and raised in NYC, I’m not afraid to ask questions and I can be pushy when I need to. I’ve been able to locate, access and manage many of the services Valerie needs on my own. Even so, I call on our GGRC case manager when I run into problems and need advice and help brainstorming solutions. For families without my advantages, the case manager’s knowledge of the service system is indispensable.
With low salaries and frequent staff turnover, there are fewer and fewer case managers working who have the experience and knowledge families need. With caseloads far above federally mandated numbers, case managers are stretched beyond their limits and can’t provide the individual attention necessary for each client. I fear that this crucial source of support and information for people with developmental disabilities and their families will not be available in the future.
For now, we continue with our planning. Val and I will talk on the weekend to be sure I haven’t forgotten anything in my notes for Tuesday’s meeting. We’ll try to write an IPP that’s a roadmap for the new case manager. I am doing my best, even as I cover our bases, to think the most optimistic thoughts.