Many of us think of CFS (Child and Family Services) as the devil who comes and takes our children away, but did you know they offer other services?
Turns out they can be used to advocate for your children in their school! I had no clue!
Do to Dayton's behavior, his current school has called CFS twice in the last year. It's super embarrassing, and as I cried and threw a temper tantrum only a parent who's been in this horrifying position can appreciate, the worker sitting across from me sympathized with my situation. Upon hearing what the school had to say, then listen to my incoherent babble and interviewing Dayton, the file was closed immediately. Before leaving their offices, the worker asked me how she could be of help to Dayton and I, and of course my first answer was to find us a new school, a school that specialized in helping children with autism. Of course, her answer to me is an all too familiar answer most of us hear when we ask our selves where to find a school that can appreciate our little ones pattern of thought. "I'm afraid there just isn't any such school in Winnipeg... But, I do have another idea..."
"I'm all ears!!!"
"How about we find a worker who will advocate for Dayton within the school system?"
"Seriously?! You do that?"
"Sign me up!!!"
And she did.
In less then two weeks I got a phone call from a worker who was a temp, but offered his services right away. He came to my home, and I asked Dayton's social worker, Diana from children with special needs and disabilities to come join us for our first appointment. I mean, CFS was coming to my house, and they're the devil, right? I needed someone at the door to stop Satan if he tried to take my baby away, and Diana is afraid of no one. At least I think...
Anyways, the appointment went super well! A little uncomfortable at first, and I was totally, brutally honest with the guy, I told him it's strange working with someone who could potentially come in my home, not like my smile and take my baby, but he assured me CFS wants to work with families to keep families together. Another thought he had offered me was that having CFS come to Dayton's IEP meetings at the school shows I have a relationship with CFS and the school can not use CFS as threat when I'm bringing CFS to them! I liked this guy.
He hooked me up with some counseling, which I thought I didn't really need, but you know what? I think most of us with kids on the spectrum need someone to talk to, someone who will listen to us without judgement, and someone we can vent at. We all love our kids, no doubt about that, I would give my life for Dayton's in a blink of an eye, but there are days where my patients runs on empty, and I just need a break from having to explain every single thing... Just a little, tiny break...
It was during this counseling that I learned that someone from the school division that has an understanding of autism should be involved in the IEP process, and furthermore, should be included in the IEP meetings! I've never had anyone from the school division included in the IEP meetings, and the only people present were the principal, school guidance counselor, the resource teacher and then of course Dayton's team: his behavioral specialist I work with at home and of course Diana, Dayton's social worker from children with special needs and disabilities, and let's not forget me, his mama. I don't go to a school meeting without these two ladies, as I need their support to make it through a meeting with this school.
One more thing... they have family support workers! Depending on your income, they may charge you for this service, but since I'm on sick leave from work, our worker isn't charging us. The family support worker comes to our home once a week for an hour and a half. She provides us with information and is a sound board for me.
By having a relationship with CFS, I'm walking away with an advocate for Dayton in the school system, a counselor for myself, a proper IEP meeting where the school is accountable for what happens at school, and a family service worker. None of these things would have come about without my CFS worker.
Another plus, every email I get from the school and respond to, I forward to Brenda, my CFS worker. Everything is documented by her, so if there are any issues, she will take care of them. She's so strong! And if I have a concern with the school and email then, I make sure they see Brenda's being emailed as well. I get a response from the school immediately. Brenda's email address carries a lot of weight behind it.
Friend or Foe?
For more information on what services they offer, follow this link: /index.html http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/pwd/index.html.
To contact the Family Support Coordinator, call 204-944-4369.
Consider yourselves hugged!