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As manager of Help Me Grow Orange County, Rebecca Hernandez has for years helped connect families to health professionals and support services when they have concerns about their children’s health and development.

Now, she’s helping the many regional organizations serving these children to connect with each other, to improve and streamline the programs on which these families rely.

Hernandez and Help Me Grow are spearheading the Orange County Care Coordination Collaborative for Kids (OC C3 for Kids), a grantee of the California Community Care Coordination Collaborative (5Cs), which is funded by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. The 5Cs supports projects around the state and provides opportunities for leaders to learn from one another. The project in Orange County is pilot-testing a process to identify, track and review challenging cases of families of children with special health care needs. OC C3 for Kids comprises a coalition of more than 30 representatives from key agencies that provide medical, social, and case management services for young children and families.

“I’ve been extremely impressed by engagement from other organizations (in the region),” Hernandez said. “There’s a true passion from the people who work in this field in wanting to do good things for families and improve the system. It really is worth the effort to engage these organizations and come up with a common agenda and common goals. We’re all trying to do the same thing: to improve and provide really good service for families of children with special health care needs.”

The case review system that Hernandez is working on has had its share of challenges, she said. So far, OC C3 for Kids has reviewed four cases, each involving children with substantial developmental and medical needs. The group has created a template to standardize discussion of the cases and make case review meetings more productive. Discussions so far have involved improving communication among professionals in disparate fields — from foster care workers to special education liaisons to physicians — and helping families overcome barriers to getting the help they need.

“We’re trying to identify what’s working with the system and what some of the challenges are,” Hernandez said. “We’ve had some cases where when you hear about them, it just breaks your heart. But what we’ve learned about relationships and communication between providers has been so useful.”

Related Grants

This policy brief by the National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health looks at what happens when low-income youth and young adults with chronic conditions and disabilities age out of the Title V Program for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs and provides policy recommendations.

This fact sheet from the National Health Law Program is designed to inform families about the steps they can take to appeal decisions about their child’s CCS benefits and highlight key resources available to support the process.