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Jackie Falk: Meeting the Unique Needs of a Family

The first case assigned to me was that of four boys, the Moananus, who ranged from 6 to 14 years of age. They had been in the dependency system since the 2012, and had a rough situation. Their mother struggles to be stable, and their father has a difficult time raising four boys on his own. There were allegations of sexual abuse by a maternal cousin on one of the boys, which forced the family out of their housing. Then, the paternal grandmother passed away, leaving the family with no housing option. To compound their complicated situation, the youngest boy is autistic. When I started working on this case in January, the family was living in the Hamilton House on Golden Gate Avenue between Market St. and Leavenworth (not a safe area, especially for children).

Given my interest in special education, I tried to focus on helping the youngest, autistic son. As I saw it, if I was able to get the youngest adequate services at school, transportation, and an afterschool program that met his needs, that would lift a bit of the burden off of the rest of the family. The youngest son is completely nonverbal, runs away from adults, and engages in somewhat aggressive behavior with his peers (for example, he bites them). After reviewing his IEP, a meeting was requested with the IEP team. I was skeptical of what we would be able to accomplish, as the previous IEP’s notes indicated that the team had discussed a behavioral support plan but never drafted or implemented one. Also, transportation is costly and difficult to re-work in the middle of the school year, so I was unsure of the pushback we would receive regarding that. However, during the meeting, the school agreed to perform a Functional Analysis Assessment which will ultimately lead to a more tailored, appropriate behavioral support plan. This plan, implemented by the school and continued at home, will teach the youngest child the skills he needs to be functional in society. I was also able to apply to the Janet Pomeroy Center’s afterschool program for children with special needs, and the youngest was accepted into the program! The school agreed to provide transportation after school to the Center for afterschool care.

In the end, a community is coming together to meet the unique needs of this young boy. Also, this allows their father more time to look for employment, and care for the needs of his other three children. Also during the semester, the father was able to qualify for housing on Hayes Street, in a much safer and more welcoming neighborhood for this deserving family. I am very happy to say that this family is situated much more comfortably now than when I received this file in January, and I am proud of the work we were able to do in this case.

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