Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Why Social Workers Love “Navigate Life Texas”

“It’s really my go-to resource.”

“My job is busy and I don’t have a lot of time to waste. This website points me to topics and local resources that help me help a family.”

Social workers and other professionals have been in touch about how much they like and value Navigate Life Texas. Here are the top 5 reasons they like this website:

  • It has up-to-date information all in one place.
  • It explains complex topics like Medicaid and the special education process.
  • It has tips and advice to walk parents (and professionals) through tricky situations they might face, like the transition to adulthood.
  • It has links to local community services and national resources, including for financial assistance.
  • They can find information that’s better and more complete than what comes up in an online search.

Here are the stories of 2 social workers who use the site all the time, and a little information about the vision behind it. You can also see our video on how case managers can help their clients.

Everything in One Place

Casey Zwerneman, BSW, The Arc of the Capital Area

I’m a case manager and trainer for the CLASS waiver program, and my main job is to help children with disabilities or special health-care needs get services through the program. So I meet with families in the community, talk to them by phone, and supervise other case managers doing the same thing. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out who will pay for something the child needs, like special therapies, medical supplies, and more. I’m a little like a detective!

Sometimes families need more than the services the program covers, and that’s where this website comes in. I talk to families about what other help they might need, and Navigate Life Texas lets me find local resources and know what’s out there in a comprehensive way. It’s hard to find what I need through Google alone, and it can be confusing to make sense of what I do find. So, I very much appreciate the way resources are pulled together on this site. There’s a place to search for things by county. And if I don’t exactly know what I’m looking for, I can search through everything that’s in my area. Other professionals should definitely know about this. I think it would help them. It’s sure helped me a lot.

The mom of one of my clients knew about the website; she was excited to show it to me. Beyond finding services and resources, I’m using it to learn more about some of the topics for myself. That way, I’m better informed and can share what I learn with families. For example, many people don’t understand MedicaidMedicare and other insurance options. It can get really complicated, even for me! The site explains it really well. There’s also a really good link on the Medicaid page where you can find providers who take different health plans. Many families don’t know how to do that.

The financial assistance page has also been a gem. A family I worked with needed a new van that could fit a lift and, based on a tip on Navigate Life Texas, we found them some help to buy it.

There are so many good topics that it’s hard to mention them all. For example, I use the parts about transitions to adulthood regularly. And I really like how there are so many ideas and ways to get parents connected to other parents and community groups. I would tell another social worker or professional that they’ll really appreciate how everything is pulled together in one place. That’s my favorite part about it.

A Tool for Problem Solving

Taylor Lott, LMSW, Children’s Medical Center Dallas

I’ve been a social worker in the Heart Center for 3 years. I heard about the Navigate Life Texas website about a year ago at a presentation and now I find that I’m using it at least 5 to 6 times a week to reference things.

I love how it has up-to-date information for parents all in one spot. Like, here’s how to get assistance, here are the steps. It breaks things down really nicely. I also like that the pages are brief and if you need to know more, there’s a link to the details. Honestly, it’s really my go-to. I haven’t seen anything else like it!

I work in the Safe at Home program with children with congenital heart disease and their families. I see children who are inpatient (staying at the hospital) and outpatient (coming into the clinic for treatment or services). Parents have a lot going on, and it’s stressful, so I make sure they know I’m here to help them. They can call me anytime they need information or connections to resources; they have my direct line. When they call, we’re jumping in and problem-solving. We figure out what they need right then and there—maybe it’s a program, maybe it’s more information, or maybe it’s someone to help them sort it all out. We work through it together.

I check Navigate Life Texas all the time when I’m referring families to different resources. It’s on our resource list that social workers give to families in the hospital. We’re lucky to be able to offer some services and supports right here in the hospital, but the families I see have many different needs and questions. I used to just search online to try to find what they needed, but that’s hit-or-miss—you’re not always going to the right place, and you’re spending a lot of time searching that you could be spending with a family. My job is busy and I don’t have a lot of time to waste! Now, I just can go to this website, find the topic or resource, and then loop back around to the family with information. I use the Medically Dependent Children Program (MDCP) page a lot, and also pages on other community-based and medical resources. Like I said, it’s really my go-to. I’m so excited it exists and so are the other social workers here.

Designed to be Different

Navigate Life Texas is designed to reach parents of children with disabilities and special health-care needs with critical information, tips, and support. This site is helpful for children of all ages--from newborns to adult children. It’s also designed to reach the people supporting them—like social workers, case managers, and educators—so that they have trustworthy information to share with parents and are better prepared to help families identify community services, understand their options and rights, connect with other families, and find financial support.

These are just 2 of many stories about the site’s unique value. We hope that together, parents and professionals can use it to find clear answers and work together to support each other and the children they care about.