How can it possibly be December?! I feel as though this holiday season has arrived before I was ready for it. It has been very busy at Options & Advocacy and I am delighted to share some good news. As some of you may know, the State of Illinois had intended to reorganize/restructure the Independent Service Coordination system. This is how children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities “enter” the system. It is through this system that we work with families and individuals who live in all the group homes in the county and who received Home Based Support services from the state. We enter people into the state database (PUNS system) and determine eligibility for state programs as well as local and regional services and supports. This proposed reorganization was looking at consolidating some of the currently 17 regions across the state. These services are the cornerstone of Options & Advocacy and the ones on which the agency was founded in 1994. The state has decided to defer that decision until the fiscal year 2020. We are grateful for this, as we have been implementing the sweeping changes that occurred within the system this year, including the new Person-Centered Planning process.
Our Child & Family Connections program is currently receiving an average of 70-80 new referrals each month. That is a lot of young children! It is truly amazing how the CFC staff work to coordinate services and supports for families. The changes we see in those children as they receive the needed early intervention services truly impact their development. We have a great team of caring professionals who understand how having a very young child with developmental needs can impact the family. One of our Service Coordinators recently received a thank you note from one of her families. “I’d like to thank you for the excellent service that you have provided. Thank you for always listening to all my concerns and helping me have a little bit of peace of mind. You are like my angel.”
Our Autism Support Program continues to receive many requests for educational advocacy and family support. The term “family support” for the families of children and adults who have an autism spectrum disorder means something different for every family. Many families struggle to understand the diagnosis of autism. What does this mean for my child? How will he learn? How will I cope with these behaviors? How will she get the right services in school? What will happen when he becomes an adult?
These are tough questions. Having a child with any sort of diagnosis puts a strain on family relationships. Our amazing Service Coordinators and Parent Mentor help families to understand and cope. We help with communication systems. We conduct classroom observations to help school personnel and families to implement learning strategies in the school environment as well at home. We help to build better relationships between families and schools. Our support programs provide an opportunity to build friendships for kids who can have a hard time with this social part of life.
Across all of our programs at Options & Advocacy, there is one consistent theme. That theme is caring professionals who strive to improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities and their families. From playgroups to Sibshops to the McHenry County All Our Kids Network – it’s amazing all that we do. If you are considering making a holiday donation you may donate online. You can also send a check to our office at 365 Millennium Drive Suite A, Crystal Lake, IL 60012. We appreciate every gift!
We are blessed to be part of your lives! I wish you a healthy and happy holiday season and a new year of peace and joy.