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Letter from the Executive Director

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Thank You for Helping Family to Family Rise to Success this past year!   Because of the generous support of all our donors like you, despite a decrease in grant funding, we were able to help many individuals. Please know that 92% of your dollars go to program support.

We just wanted to share some highlights of the past year (July 2015-June 2016) with you:

  1. We had 1085 calls & emails requesting information & referrals to resources this year:
      1.  39% requested information on the special education process,
      2. 27% were looking for specific resources in the community,
      3. 24% requested information (an 8% increase from last year) on how to navigate the adult service systems  (Medicaid waivers, social security, vocational rehabilitation, etc.), and
      4. 10% had other areas of need for information & support.
  2. We also attended 41 community resource fair events where we spoke to over 2600 individuals sharing advice and support with family members as we speak individually to them; or helping family members, educators, and service providers learn more about F2F and Texas Project FIRST. This does not count our active participation in the United Way interagency meetings where over 200 agencies come together monthly to share information & resources.  
  3. We offered training at our annual conference, in our office, and in the community to more than 500 individuals.  Our annual conference was attended by family members from 16 different school districts in the area and 72% of those that attended had never attended a conference before.  
  4. Our Guided Transition Program got up and running.   150 youth & their family members were provided training on the Transition Planning process and the new Graduation programs, as well as Person Centered thinking.  Approx. 46% of the individuals completed the baseline survey which will allow us to track progress within the Guided Transition program.  Tours of various adult programs in our community begain in May 2016 and will continue through the summer. 
  5. We also have provided many social opportunities to over 350 family members (i.e. Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Little Rustlers participation, Astros games, family parties, etc.) which also allow families to network with one another and create their own circles of support for themselves and their children.
  6. Maintained the Texas Project FIRST website which got over 40,000 page views per month per Google Analytics - almost reached the 3 million hits per year mark.
  7. Continued to update resources in the Navigate Life Texas website as well as write 24 blogs for the Piney Woods/Upper Gulf Coast Region and the Greater Houston Mid Gulf Coast Region.  I was asked to be videotaped for the site also and spoke about the challenges and joys of having children with disabilities.  
  8. Continued to collaborate with Carestarter and the free Connections App to figure out other ways to provide information to families through the app.  
  9. Helped Texas A&M University with the Long Term Services Survey for individuals with disabilities - Supervised 12 surveyors who interviewed approx. 600 adults in the greater Houston area on their feelings about their supports & services received in the community.  
  10. Represented families on a number of stakeholder committees at the state level – Providing input for Region 11’s Transition & Employment Guide, Region 10's Special Education Information Center, and at the Texas Education Agency Cameras In The Classroom Stakeholder Meeting, as well as the Parent Training and the Continuous Improvement Steering Committees.
  11. Navigated to more cloud computing, installed wifi in our office and eliminated our server while also upgrading our computers to Windows 10 and newer Office software.   
  12. Became a Community Partner for the Health & Human Services Commission YourTexasBenefits.Com to aid families in need of a place to use a computer to register for SNAP, Medicaid, and other state benefits.  
  13. Finalized our 5 year Strategic Plan. 

Our goal is to provide parents with the necessary tools and training so they can ensure their children get a quality education so that their children with disabilities ultimately move on to further education, employment or independent living (with or without supports) after high school.   When families have information and training – they can make good decisions. When needs are met and supports are obtained, families are healthier, children benefit, and outcomes for young adults with disabilities are optimized.

When parents, along with educators and community members, come to recognize children for their abilities and not just their disabilities, they can begin to develop a vision for children’s future. Without a vision to guide them through the education and service systems, children will not receive the services needed to become successful adults.

Our plans for 2016-17:

  1. Provide information, referral, training and support to more families and youth.
  2. Continue the Guided Transition Program for youth ages 12-20 and their families.
  3. Begin our Leadership & Advocacy training program for individuals with disabilities, family & community members to improve the self advocacy and leadership skills of people interested in disability issues. 
  4. Improve our outreach to the spanish speaking community in Houston with a dedicated bilingual support person.

Thank you for joining us as we look forward to another great year! Together we are helping children soar to new heights!

Mary Jane Williams

Executive Director