In the 2006 session, the Georgia Legislature set aside $7.6 million to assist medically fragile and special needs children and their families, including but not only those impacted by the changes in eligibility for the Katie Beckett Waiver Program. The Community Foundation was requested to assist with the development of a plan for administering and distributing these dollars because of our rich history of convening key players and implementing solutions addressing critical community issues. Through the Champions for Children with Exceptional Needs initiative, we brought together people and resources to identify a nonprofit organization able to provide support services for Georgia’s medically fragile and special needs children and their families.
An Advisory Committee of experts, community volunteers, families affected and others was convened to provide consultation, input and perspective on Champions’ progress. Advisory Committee members are listed below:
- David F. Apple, Jr., M.D., Shepherd Center
- Denise Bailey, Community Volunteer
- Sylvia Caley, Health Law Partnership
- Betsy Dixon, Community Volunteer
- Marian M. Gamble, Family Connection Partnership
- Lauren Jones, Georgia Medical Care Foundation
- Pat Nobbie, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities & Parent of young adult with special needs
- Vicki Riedel, Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University & Community Volunteer
- Judith Moen Stanley, Parent of child with disabilities
- Pat Willis, Voices for Georgia’s Children
- Evonne Yancey, Kaiser Permanente
Champions for Children has mapped the existing services for medically fragile and special needs children and their families, identified where there are gaps, and developed recommendations to meet those gaps with an appropriate network of nonprofits across Georgia. A literature review and interviews and focus groups conducted with parents and service providers revealed that direct financial assistance to families was the most pressing need for families of special needs and medically fragile children. In the words of one parent, “there are great services available for our children but for many of us they are financially out of our reach.”
Visit http://www.championsforchildrenga.org/ for program information including services provided, eligibility requirements and how to apply for assistance and services. Site visitors can also find information on local affiliates and links to additional resources and information. If you have additional questions, please contact Lita Ugarte Pardi.
Beginning in April 2008, families of medically fragile and special needs children across Georgia are able to apply for and receive direct financial assistance and support services from a state-wide nonprofit collaborative to help cover the costs of caring for their children at home. In January 2008 The Community Foundation announced a $4.87 million, multi-year grant to Easter Seals Southern Georgia for the Champions for Children with Exceptional Needs Initiative.
During the Champions for Children five-year grant period (2008-2012), $500,000 will be available annually for families in need of financial assistance to cover expenses including therapies, medications and goods for their children. An additional $1.5 million is invested in a permanent trust to provide direct financial assistance in perpetuity and $870,000 is available to support the organization’s capacity building and program staffing needs.