In honor of Family Support Month, we’d like to shine a spotlight on a very important organization that we work with called SPAN..and a special family who benefitted from their support.
The Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) in New Jersey is an organization dedicated to supporting families raising children with special needs. SPAN provides information and referrals about county, state and national resources; information on special education rights; access to health care resources; connection with other families with similar needs; outreach to medical and school professionals, and so much more! They are relied on by thousands of families each year for information, educational rights and general support.
CNNH supports the difference that SPAN makes in the lives of parents by hosting a dedicated SPAN representative, Deepa Srinivasavaradan (everyone just calls her Deepa!), in the CNNH – Voorhees, New Jersey office two days a week. Deepa is available to meet with CNNH patients by appointment or connect via email or telephone.
“Parents who have children with special needs typically have so much going on in their lives,” comments Deepa. “CNNH has made accessing information and resources easier for their patients by contracting with SPAN. Typically one of the CNNH clinicians will refer a patient directly to me but I also hear from parents who heard about me in the newsletter or on the website. I know what parents are going through and I understand that time is precious. There are appointments to make, deadlines to meet and a lot of information to digest in order to be an effective advocate for your child.”
Dawn S. from Southern New Jersey, whose son is a patient at CNNH, benefitted from the SPAN Difference at CNNH when she first spoke to Deepa over four years ago.
“When we first came to CNNH for testing, the doctor at CNNH suggested I connect with Deepa,” remembers Dawn. “Deepa educated me on what services my son was entitled to receive to support his learning differences. I had no idea these laws existed prior to meeting with her.”
CNNH also played a part in the process as the clinicians offered recommendations for Dawn’s son and, with permission, consulted directly with Deepa about the services the family might need. “CNNH didn’t just hand me a report with numbers,” she recalls. They actually offered recommendations based on the testing and his specific needs. This removed the guesswork of what my son might need. Then, having access to a SPAN representative at CNNH really streamlined the process to access the services my son needed.”
The school district was receptive to the recommendations and worked with her to make improvements. “My school was great. They worked with me to get my son the services he needed for him to be more independent and successful. And, it worked! Four years later my son is doing really well. We make adjustments as they are needed and everyone involved is so pleased.”
Deepa still keeps in touch with Dawn, except now it’s to share how well her son is doing. “Now his grades are wonderful! He loves his teacher and does not fight me about going to school every day. This has removed the anxiety for both him and me!”
CNNH and SPAN partner on several initiatives to support families in the community, including a “Next Steps” workshop for families whose children have recently received a special needs diagnosis; a patient satisfaction outreach effort and a Milestones Brochure (created in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) outlining the stages and expectations of child development.