References and Testimonials

July 1, 2020

I was so excited that my son was selected for the Self Determination Program October 1, 2018; he was among the first 10 participants at our regional center to reach Self-Determination.  However, we struggled for 1.5 years to build an adequate PCP. In February 2020, we still had nothing to show for it.

I was not intending to hire an Independent Facilitator.  After I realized I didn’t have the time or knowledge to do it myself, I asked our RC Service Coordinator to step in and he assured us he could do the work. That was a big mistake.  Dedicated as he was, our service coordinator was over-worked and unreliable. He was not well-schooled on the breadth of the Self Determination Program.  He was focused on the Regional Center’s role, which often competed with our focus. We needed the help of an Independent Facilitator, a certified professional trained to create to Person Centered Plan for my son.

Fortunately, the Regional Center now provides $2500 for the initial Person Centered Plan (which is paid directly to an Independent Facilitator).  I was happy to hear I could hire an IF without out-of-pocket costs.

Sandra (EmpowerPCP) came highly recommended by a mutual acquaintance; I was relieved to have a reference because I had no more time to waste.

Here are the things I would do differently if I could start over:

  1. Hire an Independent Facilitator who is a certified professional trained to build a thorough and effective Person Centered Plan. Sandra quickly assessed where we were in our broken process and put us on a schedule.
  2. Create the Person Centered Plan as soon as possible; do this even before you enter SDP orientations. Writing the PCP was a paradigm shift for us, a completely different [and wonderful] perspective on my son’s promising future. Sandra took the time to understand my son’s dreams and how to build the plan to achieve his goals. She provided detailed justifications for services in support of his goals. Sandra helped us translate these goals into a funded spending plan. This involved advocating for ‘unmet’ needs; we had to justify funding that was initially denied because we couldn’t get adequate services from the RC vendors in the past. Sandra’s effort amounted to a $37,000 increase to our budget!
  3. Don’t underestimate the importance of the IPP. The IPP is a business contract; it’s not a status report. Your Independent Facilitator understands how these interlocking dependencies work which is critical to acquiring approval for your budget.  Sandra connected us with advocacy counsel, tapped into her sources, and guided us through a complex and relatively uncharted process.  We needed the help local advocacy agenciesRegional Centers have been learning the rules and laws along with the rest of us, so it was important to have the help of someone with the experience that Sandra was able to provide.

We are now Self-Determined.  I am so grateful that my son is on the path to achieving the goals he wants, thanks to Sandra’s help. 

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-Sandra’s passion for a thriving community including people with special needs has helped us immensely–First by showing us it was possible for our daughter to live independently with supports–Sandra knows the process first-hand. She educated us on how a Person-Centered-Plan would help our daughter with Down syndrome. Today–2 years since our daughter moved into her own place, she is thriving, has lost 40 pounds, is learning new skills and maturing. Thank you Sandra for helping us through the Person-Centered Plan process and helping us to give our daughter a new positive home environment where she is thriving. Life is good! 

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