The Individual Advocacy Program works to ensure positive outcomes for individual children in crisis. The team works specifically in the areas of mental health, education, health care and child welfare to find appropriate services tailored to meet the needs of each child. Our approach focuses on the holistic needs of every child client in order to determine the necessary services to accommodate the child.
Meet our client, Hannah
Frustrated and exhausted, Hannah’s mother felt helpless when she received a letter from the school seeking payment for damages related to her child’s disability. Hannah is a fifth grader with non-verbal autism. The letter was just another indication of the school’s misunderstanding of Hannah’s disability and an alarming highlight of deficits in the appropriate education to which Hannah – like all children – is entitled.
Hannah’s mother, through the Individual Advocacy Team, found assistance in a dual-pronged strategy to advocate for Hannah and other students like her across Mecklenburg County. While the team worked to ensure that Hannah and her family would not be punished for the child’s disability, at the same time, the team pushed for the proper supports and services to enable Hannah’s progress at school. The team worked alongside Hannah’s mother to collaborate with the school, connect with local advocacy groups, and cooperate with the state’s exceptional children’s education office. Constructive conversations and correspondence ultimately engendered an autism-focused class at Hannah’s school, renewed awareness of her disability by her teachers and the curriculum they use, augmented understanding from the administration, and improved communication between Hannah’s mother and the school. Hannah’s mother was relieved when she received a new letter from the school dismissing all previous collection attempts and affirming that no future payments would be sought.
Because of the Council, today Hannah is now progressing in a school environment that seeks to nurture her as a learner, rather than isolate her as a disturbance. And, just as significant, the Council has empowered Hannah’s mother to serve as an effective advocate for her daughter. Confidence shone through her prior weariness as she turned to our team and exclaimed, “Thank you – no one has ever spoken up for us like that.”