Many families have experienced new struggles this year on top of the struggles they were already trying to navigate. Our teams have gone above and beyond to meet new and unexpected needs that this year has brought. One such story is from Jenny*, a young mother who has been working with our Bucks County LIFE program off and on since 2004.
Struggling with mental health issues and trying to support an autistic son, two of our family support specialists, Amy and Denise, have used their own lived experience to help Jenny. They have helped her navigate special education, resources, benefits, treatment recommendations and more over the years. They were able to help her find stability and support.
Then in 2020, things took a rough turn when Jenny’s mother, their main support and who they lived with, was admitted to a nursing home unable to return home and her assets were seized by the state. Jenny reached out to the Bucks LIFE program desperately requesting help. This mother no longer had access to funds to pay rent, car insurance, food, or anything. Her son, who is aging out of the children’s systems, needed a transition plan for his future. Things were unraveling fast!
Adult protective services (APS) were called on behalf of the adult child out of concern for his care and safety. The situation was causing Jenny to experience crippling mental health symptoms. Because of the urgency and severity of the situation, the family support specialists developed a plan to work together with her to prioritize tasks, with eminent homelessness as the most urgent need.
While mental health case manager is outside the scope of the Bucks County LIFE program, Jenny trusted the family support specialists to have her and her son’s best interest at heart. It was a ‘call to action’ moment for our team, “If not us, then who?” The family support specialists partnered with members of housing, legal, adult mental health, APS, natural family, and school systems to develop a plan of care going forward.
Over the months, the group worked together, and goals were accomplished to get this family the stability that they needed. Meetings continued with regular frequency with a shift from a leadership role for the Bucks County LIFE staff back to an encouraging family support role now that appropriate adult support is in place.
Amy and Denise have undoubtedly gone above and beyond their roles as family support specialists. They have exemplified every single one of our core values in practice with this family. We are grateful for the ongoing partnerships and relationships our teams cultivate with the counties we serve, allowing us to provide excellent support beyond our limitations.