By Lisa Morgan –
“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can do nothing for him in return, and how he treats people who cannot fight back.” If that is the case, then the character of Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation stands head and shoulders above most. Since 1955, Angel View has been providing compassionate residential care to more than 100 developmentally disabled infants, toddlers, children and young adults throughout Southern California, teaching residents skills they were once not able to perform. Their 19 six-bed homes, located throughout the Coachella Valley and in Joshua Tree, provide a home-like atmosphere with 24-hour nursing and attendant care. They also offer a Day Program for developmentally disabled adults from the valley and Camp Forrest, a very special summer camp program. Still, instead of resting on the laurels of their considerable achievements, the Angel View organization has pushed itself even further in an effort to see what MORE they can do to assists our Coachella Valley’s crippled children.
Angel View recently performed an informal needs assessment interviewing local and regional special education teachers, parents, service professionals, social service agencies and International Rescue Committee (IRC) caseworkers. This research discovered as many as 5,000 special needs children living at home, outside of Angel View homes. While it is preferable that these children, when they are able, live at home with their families, the Coachella Valley, is considered an underserved area with scarce resources to assist them. The study also showed that the majority of these homes are cash-strapped, single parent households. These heroic families struggle daily, needing everything from resources and referrals, to immediate and long term financial aid and transportation services. Therefore, “Angel View Outreach” has been designed to provide for these needs in three very important ways.
Resources and Referrals: The needs assessment survey showed that resources are quite difficult to find and access for these households facilitating crippled children. Imagine coming home to a special needs child after a long day of work and trying to cut through the red tape and phone circus to get the information you need to get necessary help for your child. The information is constantly changing and the process is made even more difficult by a lack of coordination among service providers. Many of these families in need have the additional challenge of a language barrier. The goal of Angel View Outreach’s Resource Referral Center is to make information easily and readily available to families by compiling and continuously updating resources for children with disabilities. They will work in conjunction with existing resource centers taking calls Monday through Friday in English and Spanish.
Special Needs Assistance: The assessment also discovered that many critical needs are not currently being met by existing programs. With several cuts to Medicare and social services, families are unable to afford basic services and equipment, medical treatment, medications, dental work or adaptive equipment (speech, hearing, vision and communication devices). Angel View wants to provide one-time mini-grants to eligible families for purchase of needed medical equipment, supplies and services. Angel View will make payments directly to vendor or medical providers or locate donated equipment. The will work to learn what is needed and put clients in contact with solutions, meeting needs with as little red tape as possible.
Transportation Assistance: Second only to the need for health insurance, transportation is the largest, major barrier standing between these children and access to healthcare in the valley. The lack of public transit that can facilitate these special needs children, the long distances many of them have to travel to specialized health care facilities complicated by parents unable to miss work and/or the lack of a working vehicle creates additional stress on these families. Consider for a moment, the difficulty facing a parent who has to transport their special needs child long distances, and make as many as three trips, just to get one pair of specially fitted shoes for their child. Angel View hopes to help by providing transportation reimbursement to low income families with disabled children for their child’s health-related trips once verifying the need with the child’s physician. They will reimburse up to 1250 miles per year at $.55 per mile per child. This will be administered in conjunction with the Transportation Reimbursement and Information Program (TRIP), and Independent Living Partnership programs currently in place.
At the helm of this program, answering calls and handling all client casework is Amanda Galindo, the new Outreach Program Manager for Angel View Outreach. With a heart as big and impressive as her Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice and the seven years of social work under her belt having served at Shelter from the Sun, a domestic violence shelter, Amanda comes equipped and focused on serving the needs of our special needs children and their families. As she continues her training, pursuing her Masters in Psychology specializing in Autism, Amanda says that the biggest challenge facing her is getting the word out to the families who desperately need the services the Angel View Outreach provides. Due to essential privacy laws protecting the information about families with these special needs, she depends on industry workers, the press and the general public to spread the word about the new outreach program. She states, “We are here to help the children, not report them” as some families whose children are in great need are afraid to ask for help due to immigration status or other concerns.
The Angel View Outreach program is completely financed through donations, although Amanda will help families get any government aid they are qualified to receive. The Angel View Thrift stores along with cash donations are all part of what supports the indispensable help and service this organization provides the large number of our valley’s crippled children. As the program grows to meet the needs of these kids, so does the need for donations and volunteers. For more information regarding the services and how you can help, call Amanda Galindo at (855) 8AV-KIDS or visit their website www.angelview.org/Outreach.