Community Connections: Horizons’ Family Support program meets needs, reduces stress
Mission statement: Horizons Specialized Services works in partnership with families and communities to expand opportunities for individuals with, or at risk of, developmental disabilities. Horizons believes that all people can learn and contribute to their communities. Through our Early Intervention, Family Support, Supported Living, Residential, Vocational and Day Programs, we personalize services for individuals across life’s continuum.
Horizons’ Family Support program is designed to meet the needs of eligible individuals and reduce the financial and emotional stress of caring for a family member with an intellectual or developmental delay or disability.
In Colorado, Family Support programs originally were created by Gov. Roy Romer in the early 1990s to address the 87 percent divorce rate among parents raising children with disabilities. This rate was much higher than for parents raising children without disabilities.
Statistics revealed that the emotional, financial and logistical challenge of providing consistent quality care for children with extra needs was breaking families apart.
Family Support offers service coordination and financial support to families with an eligible family member of any age living at home. Funds reimburse families for expenses associated with providing care, including medical and professional therapies and treatments, respite care, home modifications, insurance deductibles, co-payments and adaptive equipment. Family Support is a payer of last resort.
Each year, Horizons serves approximately 85 families in the Family Support program across the five counties of Northwest Colorado.
Families submit receipts for expenses each month, and reimbursement amounts are determined by the Family Support Council’s guidelines using a Level of Needs Assessment.
Funding comes from the state of Colorado but is never enough to meet actual needs. Horizons relies on grants, donations and annual Little Points of Light campaign contributions to support families.
Every family in Horizons’ Family Support program benefits differently.
In Routt County, Michelle and Brian Hoza have been part of the program for almost 13 years. At 9 months old, their son Blane started receiving occupational therapy, followed by speech therapy at 2 years old. Blane now is a happy and successful student at Hayden Middle School, and his parents are thankful for the variety of ways Family Support helped out.
With funding, Blane took swimming lessons at Old Town Hot Springs and has participated in STARS’ winter and summer programming. Reimbursements also were made for assistive and adaptive items like an oversized keyboard for school and a weighted vest for proprioceptive awareness.
For Leighann and Hugh Mclaughlin, the Family Support program has helped with medical expenses related to the care of their daughter, Logan, who was born prematurely in 2009.
Last month, Family Support funds helped with respite and travel expenses, allowing Leighann and Hugh to attend a Parents Encouraging Parents conference in Breckenridge.
Put on by the Colorado Department of Education, the conference promotes essential partnerships for supporting and including children with delays and disabilities in their schools and communities.
The Family Support program has been part of Lisa and Mike Powell’s lives since the birth of their son Hudson in 2010. With Hudson’s diagnosis of Down syndrome, Horizons helped Lisa and Mike adjust to a new perspective.
The program provided the Powells with an emotional foundation and introduced them to families and organizations as they were ready to explore and navigate. Financial support has been critical throughout the years as the family travels to Denver for Hudson’s eye appointments and doctor’s visits at the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome.
Horizons’ Family Support program reflects the importance of empowering families to connect with existing natural supports and integrate into community networks and activities. Caring for a family member with disabilities affects a family’s emotional and financial dynamics, and Horizons strives to alleviate associated negative impacts and push for greater access and equality.
Deirdre Pepin works in resource development and public relations for Horizons Specialized Services.
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