Alyssa Wade is the director of Pine Tree Society’s Case Management program. She hears every day from parents who don’t know where to start or even which questions to ask. Her practical approach to case management immediately puts their mind at ease. She and her team of case managers are able to address immediate needs and, at the same time, de-mystify what case management can do; opening even more doors to services and support than they ever thought possible.
“A lot of people have a vision of what case management is, but they don’t necessarily know the full gamut,” she said. “Case managers support families to get the services they need in a multitude of situations. We’re involved in all aspects of a family’s life to help and advocate to ensure their unique needs are met.”
Alyssa explains more in the Q&A below.
To help break it down, let’s start with a tangible example of what a case manager does.
A: One of the most typical situations is when families start receiving early intervention services for their child, such as being tested for autism or needing more support in school. That’s a typical time when a case manager gets involved and provides resources for where their child can go for an autism assessment or empowering the family to get what their child needs in school.
So, case managers help the family as well as the child?
A: Yes, the great thing about case management is we help members of the family as well. In the beginning, parents find there are suddenly a lot of appointments to make and trying to manage a job, house and family on top of that is overwhelming at first. We often help ease the burden by making calls, setting up appointments, organizing the schedule and helping with questions and next steps. With so much going on and everything being so new, it can be hard for parents to remember all the questions they want to ask so we talk beforehand and make sure we know what they want to address then accompany them to the appointment and help follow through.
How do parents tend to connect with you in the first place?
A: A very common situation is when a three or four year old child first exhibits signs of autism, pediatricians will refer families to us. Our connection can also start with a referral from a teacher who recognizes a need.
How do you help navigate long wait lists or offer support to families and children who do not feel like they’re being heard?
A: A lot of our families have complex needs. We carefully assess their unique situation and coordinate the care delivery they need.
There are very long wait lists for autism screenings, and we can help connect families with providers who are flexible and can meet their needs. For example, a lot of families don’t know they can receive screenings through Child Development Services.
When a child starts school, families often feel like they are not being heard. We advocate for the child’s Individualized Education Plan when they need extra services or encounter limitations to getting those started. We make sure that families and everyone within the school has access to the information they need.
What is the ultimate goal?
A: Our primary objective is to make everything less overwhelming for families. The ultimate goal for case management is to get families to a place of stability and sustainability. We can help for as long as it takes to get there, working with a family through the time their child transitions to adulthood if needed. Even then, we can transition to providing adult case management services.
With every single transition that occurs, there are different needs to be met and that’s where case management comes in.
Who is eligible and how do they become eligible?
A: To be eligible for Pine Tree Society’s case management services, the child must be 0-21 years of age and be enrolled in Katie Beckett/MaineCare. Private pay is also an option. There are specific requirements regarding a child’s diagnosis. Instructions for Katie Beckett enrollment and a full list of diagnosis are available on the Pine Tree Society website at this link:
Pine Tree Society’s children’s case management program is currently operating without a wait list, so please reach out today if you believe your child would benefit.