The Power of Care Coordination in Helping Families Thrive

By: Susan Roman, RN, MPH

Families can find it overwhelming to arrange all of the medical care and social services needed for their children. Care coordinators offer powerful advocacy and support to help ease that burden for families.

At Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination, we are committed to embracing a cross-sector approach to advance care coordination for children with complex medical needs, children with behavioral health needs, and children at risk for poorer outcomes due to social determinants of health.

One of the ways we gather professionals together from across various child-serving sectors is through our annual Care Coordination Forum. This year’s 3rd annual Forum, funded by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, brought more than 150 physicians, nurses, social workers, care coordinators, representatives from community and state agencies, and others from a variety of child-serving sectors together to learn about best practices in serving children and families.

Among the event’s most powerful moments came when Veronica Rosario, a mother of a son with muscular dystrophy, addressed participants.

“Your work gives hope. Your work is important,” said Veronica. “Love the work you do, be passionate about the work you do, be persistent about the work you do and most of all, have the courage to do the work you do.”

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Veronica’s husband passed away from cancer while the family was living in Puerto Rico. About one year later, her son received his diagnosis. In search of improved health care and family support, the family relocated to Connecticut in 2015 and moved in with Veronica’s in-laws. However, she struggled to access even basic medical and social services.

After contacting Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination, care coordinators helped Veronica locate support services including medical appointments, physical therapy, speech therapy, housing assistance and transportation.

“I want to say thank you to you for all the work you do, for being there for your families, for believing in care coordination, for believing that as a team you can all make a difference,” said Veronica. “One single person can’t do it all. Without the supports in place, I wouldn’t be here.”

In addition to general sessions such as Veronica’s speech, the Forum also featured 14 breakout sessions, including one on gender identity; one on the work of Connecticut Children’s Advancing Kids Innovation Program to assist social innovators in developing solutions that address gaps in programs and services for children and families; one about suicide risk and prevention; and one on a new refugee health clinic at Connecticut Children’s.

Matthew Dicks, author and storyteller, delivered the Forum’s keynote address encouraging participants to learn to recognize the powerful stories in their day to day work and how they can use those stories to build funding and support for their work.

“The world is full of potentially interesting people who don’t know how to tell stories,” said Dicks. “You’re rich with stories because of the work you do. Collect them in a way you’ll hold onto forever and tell them. Use them to find things you want and to get what you need.”

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To date, Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination has connected more than 8,500 children and families to programs and services, including Veronica’s family.

After their initial struggle in relocating to Connecticut, the family now lives in their own home, Veronica’s son is receiving specialized services for his diagnosis and Veronica has become an active member of her community. Not only is she working towards her graduate degree, but she is teaching other parents how to advocate for their children and frequently speaks out to help others.

“If I can help someone, if I can change somebody’s day, for me that is the most gratifying feeling that I made a difference in that person’s life because others have made a difference in mine,” said Veronica.

Services at Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination are free for children up to age 21. Contact us at 1.860.837.6200 to be connected with our staff.

Susan Roman, RN, MPH, is the program director for Connecticut Children’s Center for Care Coordination.

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