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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 88% of your dollars go to program support.

We just wanted to share some highlights of the past year (July 2016-June 2017) with you:

  1. We had 1102 calls & emails requesting information & referrals to resources this year:
      1.  38% requested information on the special education process,
      2. 27% were looking for specific resources in the community,
      3. 22% 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. 13% had other areas of need for information & support.
  2. We also attended 26 community resource fair events where we spoke to over 1200 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 over 600 family members, 80 youth and 200 community members.  Our annual conference was attended by family members from 17 different school districts in the area and 65% of those that attended had never attended a conference before.  
  4. Our Guided Transition Program began its second year.  148 Family members & 45 youth were provided training on the Transition Planning process and the new Graduation programs, Person Centered thinking, Social Security & Work incentives, Alternatives to Guardianship, Retirement & Social Security, as well as planning for College.  Three tours took place in the Fall of 2016.  
  5. Began our Leadership and Advocacy training program for 100 individuals with disabilities, their family members and interested community members to increase the self advocacy, public policy advocacy and leadership skills.  As part of this grant we collaborated with the Arc of Greater Houston and the Arc of Texas to have a legislative forum where individuals with disabilities and family members shared their stories with legislators about the importance of services received through medicaid, as well as the need for employment opportunities.  We also collaborated with the Arc of Greater Houston on the 1st Positive Futures conference to increase the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.  We provided outreach with a Spanish day of advocacy, in addition to our 4 part training series where we share best practices in disability to ensure advocates understand policies and procedures that promote people having control over their own lives and the inclusion of people with disabilities in the greater Houston community.  All in all - 237 received training on various issues in the first year of the grant. 
  6. We also have provided many social opportunities to almost 300 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Continued to collaborate with Carestarter and the free Connections App to figure out other ways to provide information to families through the app.    
  10. Represented families on a number of stakeholder committees at the state level – Providing input for Region 10's Special Education Information Center, and at the Texas Education Agency Texas Continuous Improvement Steering Committees. Also represented families on The Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities (IDD) IDD project advisory committee and began to serve on an Employment Network developed by The Arc of Greater Houston and the H.E.A.R.T program. Also served this past year on the STAR KIDS panel for United Healthcare's roll out of STAR Kids on Nov. 1. 
  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. Interviewed by KRBE 104.1, The Eagle 106.9, and by Children at Risk "Growing Up In America" on 90.1 KPFT. 
  13. Renewed our Community Partner status 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.  

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 2017-18:

  1. Provide information, referral, training and support to more families and youth.
  2. Continue the Guided Transition Program and our Leadership & Advocacy program.
  3. Continue to Improve our outreach to the spanish speaking community in Houston with a dedicated bilingual support person.
  4. Increase community engagement with Family to Family Network through some community connections events in order to increase the employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. 
  5. Improve our social media and website presence. 

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