Intensive Care Coordination: Support for Families in Crisis

March 29, 2016

When she was just 10 years old, Laney tried to choke her mother to death. Her violent tantrums, which began when she was two, had reached critical mass. Her mom, Sarah, didn’t know where to turn. “We were begging agencies for answers and help… we just didn’t know where to turn.”

After the attack, Sarah placed Laney in a mental health facility. When it was time for Laney to be discharged, Sarah told the staff at the facility she wasn’t taking Laney home until she knew support services were in place. “I knew that I just couldn’t do it on my own,” Sarah explains.

Sarah found the support she needed through UMFS’ intensive care coordination. Rachelle Butler, project manager, said ICC provides formal and informal supports to families in the community.

Sarah worked with a coordinator and a parent support partner, Cristy Corbin. Informal supports might include the care and encouragement of a church, a civic group, United Way or FACES of Virginia Families, a foster care advocacy group. In addition to these supports, UMFS connects participating families with a parent support partner—workers who apply their experience navigating the mental health system for their own children.

Cristy helped connect Sarah with the supports she needed to bring Laney home safely. “I felt empowered to make decisions for my family because Cristy was there to walk me through the services — services she knew because she had sought them out for her own child,” explains Sarah.

Sarah and Laney remain connected to the services that have helped them find stability and hope. “ I am proud to say that since 2014, Laney has not had one violent outburst,” Sarah explains. “For the first time in more than 10 years, I feel like there is hope. I feel like my daughter has a future. We’re not in crisis anymore and we still have a ways to go, but without these programs and supports, we would not be where we are now.”

Through the systems of care grant, UMFS connects families and high-risk children with mental health services in Richmond, Colonial Heights and the counties of Chesterfield, Goochland, and Henrico as well as other local partners.