When Veronica Rosario moved to Connecticut in 2015 with her two sons, she felt overwhelmed and struggled to acclimate to her new surroundings. Rosario’s husband passed away after battling cancer and her youngest son was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy just one year after that.
“When my husband passed, my mother-in-law said, ‘If you need anything, you can count on us. We’ll help you,’” said Rosario.
While she came to East Hartford to embrace the support of her in-laws, and for improved healthcare, at times she felt isolated and alone.
“It was hard because nobody in my family has this condition,” said Rosario.
With Connecticut Children’s Medical Center just minutes from where they were staying with her in-laws, Rosario was relieved that state-of-the-art healthcare was close by. However, when she contacted the primary care office where she hoped to get care for her children, she learned they were not accepting new patients.
“That was my first moment of, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’” said Rosario.
Frustrated and devastated, she did not know where to turn for help.
Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination
After making phone call after phone call, Rosario eventually found Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination. The program has assisted her ever since.
“Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination helped me find a doctor and we got the therapies we needed. They really helped me get the ball rolling with my son’s healthcare,” said Rosario.
Staff members conducted an initial phone screen with Rosario and assigned her a care coordinator, Maria Guzman. Guzman conducted an initial family assessment.
“We found that they needed just about every basic service imaginable,” said Guzman.
Guzman helped Rosario get an appointment with her preferred primary care physician who conducted additional medical assessments, confirmed her youngest son’s diagnosis, and began treatments. She helped Rosario apply for health insurance and enroll her sons in school.
Guzman also referred Rosario to a temporary employment agency, a local food bank, the Salvation Army, town social services, and the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She also helped Rosario join a waiting list for her own apartment and lined up transportation to medical appointments through the Husky program.
“When you uproot your family to come here and you have a plan and all of a sudden you find a very huge bump in the road and they give you that lifeline, that helps put your mind at ease,” said Rosario.
Enhancing Protective Factors
As part of Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health, Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination works to connect families to programs and services they need to help their children. Their care coordinators also strengthen families long-term by enhancing inherent characteristics that help children and families thrive in the face of life’s challenges.
The Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination embraces the Strengthening Families framework, developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy based in Washington, D.C. The framework enhances protective factors in families to mitigate risk and foster healthy development through everyday actions. It focuses on five areas: boosting parental resilience; building parents’ social connections; enhancing knowledge of parenting and child development; providing families with concrete support in times of need; and increasing social and emotional competence of children.
By encouraging and supporting Rosario to make small but significant changes for herself and her family, Guzman helped increase the family’s natural resources and decrease the risk of abuse or neglect, as well as potential effects of stress. These “small” efforts included linking Rosario to various basic needs support programs, a parent empowerment program, and an agency that provides direct resources for Muscular Dystrophy. By helping Rosario focus on what is strong in her family, rather than what is wrong, Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination helped strengthen them for current and future challenges.
“There is a lot of information and services out there. Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination helps you get that information and helps you decipher it when it becomes overwhelming,” said Rosario. “They helped me become more confident in myself and that way I can be a better mother and caregiver.”
A Stronger Future
Now living in Connecticut for about two years, the family recently moved into their own apartment. While she already holds a bachelor’s degree, Rosario is now enrolled in continuing education courses at Goodwin Community College.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts of Veronica and every community partner, the family is now thriving,” said Guzman.
While Rosario’s youngest son continues struggling with his condition, both of her children are excelling in their schools.
“My advice to parents is to always ask for help. You cannot do this alone,” said Rosario. “Even if you think you have all your needs covered, Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination can help your journey be smoother. Life can be overwhelming and having someone there to guide you, or just say you’re doing great, can be reassuring.”