Updated: Dec 11, 2019
My Name is Nancy and I am the proud mother of two children who have multiple behavioral, mental and emotional challenges. Over 12 years ago, my husband and I became certified therapeutic foster and later adoptive parents of two siblings. It was evident within the first few days that both children had numerous challenges. At the time, I felt alone and overwhelmed. Having never been a parent before (let alone the parent to two special needs children), I had no idea what kind of services would be beneficial or where to even begin finding them.
As time passed, I was able to find some basic services. The issues that my children had however, necessitated a more intense level of care. Our case management provider suggested that my son and daughter be transitioned to what they called a “Joint Planning Team” or JPT for short. Having never been part of a JPT, I was interested in learning more. It was explained to me that JPT was a joint partnership between my case management provider and Allegheny Family Network (AFN). I was ecstatic when I found out that it was a prerequisite that all AFN employees be family members or caregivers of children who had similar issues to those of my children. The cherry on top was that AFN offered me a Family Support Partner (FSP). For the first time since becoming a parent, I did not feel alone! Fortunately, the incorporation of JPT services and my new FSP, Nikki, arrived when it was most needed.
My son had multiple diagnoses including ADHD, ASD, ODD and PTSD. At the time, he had been institutionalized for several years and was about to be discharged. The hospital wanted to discharge him back to our care with services that we had tried several times before to no avail.
In addition, the last time our family was together, my son came after my daughter and me with a butcher knife threatening to kill all three of us. My daughter who had issues of her own, was traumatized by the incident and was deathly afraid to live with him in the same house. I explained the situation to my son’s treatment team and asked that they find another option until my daughter felt safe enough to live with her brother again. Because of my concern for my daughter’s safety, the county viewed this as abandonment and threatened my husband and me with legal action. Other than when we adopted our children, neither my husband nor I had ever been to court. Thank God for our JPT team and our FSP, Nikki; they were beside us the entire way.
It has been over two years since JPT, AFN and Nikki entered our lives. Our lives have changed for the better and I am now employed as an FSP at AFN. It is my goal to enhance the lives of families and have a positive impact just like Nikki did for our family.