So, you’ve taken the plunge and have reached out for help for your child. Now you find your self rushing from place to place, meeting all sorts of new professionals who say they are here to help you. It can be very confusing! Here are some tips from a (former) case manager about how to advocate for your child.
1. Ask tons of questions
Think of your case manager as your family’s tour guide. They can help arrange for the services and give you information about the services. They can even help you and your child get to appointments! But it is on you to make the most of their expertise.
It is important to educate yourself on your child’s symptoms and current diagnosis. The more questions you ask the more you learn about your child and about what supports are available in the community.
If you would like for your child to receive a specific service, ask for it! As a case manager it was easier for me to connect a family to services if they told me what they wanted. Also, if you get connected to a service that isn’t working for your family, let your case manager know. Explain what you think isn’t working and your case manager can help you find a solution.
Ask your child’s therapist what approaches they are using for your child. See if your child’s case manager has any ideas for other services in the community that your family and child might benefit from. Request that your family doctor to work with your Youth Dynamics team. Ask your child’s mentor what breakthroughs they’ve seen while working with your child.
2. Listen to what professionals are telling you
My pet peeve was when families would pepper me with questions and they wouldn’t let me answer before moving onto the next question. After you’ve asked a question, be willing to listen to the answer. Your treatment team wants nothing more than to answer your questions and help you understand what is going on with your child. We just need a minute to tell you the answer!
Also, be open to answers that may not be easy to hear. It can be hard to hear your child’s treatment team suggest a more aggressive treatment plan than you were expecting. But keep in mind that your child’s treatment team wants the best for you and your child.
3. Voice your opinion (respectfully!)
At every juncture in your child’s journey to recovery, you and your family should be involved in the decision making process. Express your concerns and opinions about some the suggestions being made for your child. You are the expert on your child. If you think something will not work or have a suggestion for how to tweak a service, speak up! You are integral part of your child’s treatment team and your opinion matters.