Families receiving services for their children at CTC often require more than therapy and special education. Many need guidance navigating complex and challenging healthcare and social service systems as well.
“Families enrolled in our Early Supports for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program have had access to family support providers (called Family Resources Coordinators) for years,” says Diane Cook. “Families with older children ages 3-18 need that same level of support, but we’ve never had the funding available to support it until recently.”
Diane joined CTC in the summer of 2022 as one of two Family Navigators for families with children ages 3+. She juggles an ever-changing caseload across CTC’s Kent, Burien and Tacoma centers. “My role is to help families learn what services they are entitled to and how to gain access to those services,” she says. “I believe parents are the true experts on their children. I’m here to empower, educate, and collaborate with them on advocating for their child.”
The need for her services is high and covers many areas, she says. “It ranges from helping families access Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) services to linking families with respite care options in their communities. Most families I work with require and benefit from multiple services beyond just DDA.”
Sofia’s family is an example. Her son, Noah, is 6 years old and has cerebral palsy. “Noah has been with CTC since he was 3 months old,” says Diane. “He exited the ESIT program at age 3 but continued to need services beyond what the school districts can offer, so he has seen us for occupational, speech, and physical therapy. He’s also been enrolled in our aquatherapy program. Noah was in developmental preschool before he started kindergarten last fall, and it was an especially tough transition because his family changed school districts right before he started. I was privileged to be able to support and guide Sofia through the enrollment process and Noah’s transition to kindergarten.”
At the same time, Diane helped Sofia with her DDA assistance and caregiver support. “Sofia and I are working in collaboration with Noah’s therapy team to get him an adaptive communication device and other equipment for the home,” she says. “And I’m helping Sofia develop a list of interview questions for an in-home caregiver. Sofia is a fantastic mom! It’s truly been an honor to partner with her.”
Diane’s long term goal is to work herself out of a job. “I’m simply connecting families to services and support to which they’re entitled, but it’s complicated and families are already trying to do so much” she says. ” I won’t be with them forever. My role is to partner with them, teach them about the various systems, and empower them in advocating for their child going forward.
To learn more about how you can support funding for CTC’s Family Navigator program, please contact our fundraising team at firstname.lastname@example.org