The CCPH Featured Member is Cecil Doggette. Cecil is the Director of Outreach Services at Health Services for Children With Special Needs, Inc.
In his interview, Cecil describes the uniqueness of this managed care
organization that incorporates community resources to provide a holistic
approach to the healthcare of the child/family unit. Read about the cutting
edge work being done around male caregivers, and how they've managed to
maintain strong, long-term community-campus partnerships. Cecil explains
how he views challenges, "I don't really feel that there are challenges.
Events that could be defined as challenges, I consider to be opportunities--opportunities
for reconsideration and charting of new directions, new options to think
about, procedures and operations to enhance."
is the mission of your organization?
A: The HSC (Health Services for Children) Health Care System is a nonprofit, integrated health care organization committed to serving children and adolescents with special health care needs and eliminating barriers to health care services faced by these young people in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
The HSC Health Care System is comprised of three components: The HSC Foundation which provides overall governance; The HSC Pediatric Center, the only area hospital dedicated exclusively to providing rehabilitation and transitional care to children and adolescents; and Health Services for Children With Special Needs, Inc./NET, (HSCSN/NET) a nonprofit care management organization that coordinates health care, social and education services for children and adolescents with special needs.
The mission of HSCSN/NET is to provide family-centered services, guidance,
and support through education and prevention programs, and linkages with
A: We are a one-of-a-kind organization, both locally and nationally, in our method of delivering services. There are several features that are unique to the type of work we do as a managed care organization. HSCSN/NET integrates multiple, diverse public and private services into a dynamic system of community providers and financial resources. Unification and coordination empowers the application of holistic, family-centered approaches to health and life care. The needs of each child/family unit--physical, psychological, social, developmental, and educational--are included and addressed. We pursue partnerships with other community-based organizations and universities to develop project models and strategies designed to help families navigate through complex government and community systems.
We believe that empowering our member families benefits not only the
affected family but the community as well. We have established two parent
support groups with this concept in mind. One of the support groups is
called Parents Advocate Leaders and is comprised of parents of special
needs children who are trained to be advocates and advocate trainers.
The other group, Male Caregivers Advocacy Support Group, focuses specifically
on male caregivers of special needs children. This group is the first
of its kind in the DC metropolitan area to specifically target male caregivers
of children with health care challenges. Our university partnerships (with
Georgetown University, Prince Georges Community College, and the University
of Maryland) have been instrumental in integrating our member families
more fully in processes that shape their lives and communities.
A: I am passionate about working with and serving this low-income, under-served population. Through our education process, we are able to help them build awareness of the various health care resources available. The population is better able to access necessary services through our continued involvement. The advances we have made in increasing the availability of health care information and services to the special needs community and the progress that has been made in our health care delivery system over the past five years is amazing! Our success rate for enrollment and retention of members is precedent-setting; national interest for our program's best practices has increased.
We have been able to establish a strong, positive working relationship with several community/campus organizations in the District of Columbia metropolitan area. Our continuing and new partnerships increase our ability to deliver program services to the community. We strive to take advantage of every opportunity to make resources available to families with special needs children. We believe in a family-centered health care delivery system.
Our parent support groups increase parent enlightenment and empowerment.
Our work in this area has generated a ground swell of interest. Assistance
has been pouring in from a variety of organizations with interests in
the special needs community.
A: Currently, our service population is eligible from birth to 22-years old. They must be recipients of SSI Disability Benefits who live in, or are under the jurisdiction of, Washington, DC. In addition to providing services to children with special needs, we are looking to expand our care coordination services to accommodate other members of the community on a local and national level. We want the community to be aware of the services and benefits of our organization.
Much of our strategy for increased visibility will be accomplished through
our community-campus partnerships. These alliances help us to identify
the challenges on both an individual and community level. As we investigate
other opportunities to create new linkages, we will explore information
of interest for research and evaluation projects. For instance, we are
working with the University of Maryland to develop outcome measurements
for our support groups. This project will provide insight into possible
areas for program expansion.
A: To the student and the professional, the advice would be the same. I think it is important to approach work in the field of health care with compassion and understanding. We must understand the population being served, understand social issues involved, understand the challenges being faced, and understand the community. Generally, those who have made a difference learned this early on by listening to the individuals and families of the special needs community. We need to understand the challenges of the population we serve and we need to work to bring that understanding to the community.
We must continuously work to increase our skill level in our respective areas. This is a benefit of being a member of CCPH. There are opportunities to seek information and to network with others who are facing similar or different challenges.
Also, we look for opportunities to help empower families. We serve our
mission when we provide services, but the benefit is even greater when
families are able to field some obstacles themselves. It is important
to become involved in peer-to-peer support activities. Adopting a family
with health care challenges gives us first hand exposure to obstacles
that must be overcome. We gain perspective about the needs of families
with challenged children and are better able to build strategies to assist
them and the community. I would advise students and professionals to seek
to be unique, and family-centered to make an important difference in this
A: I don't really feel that there are challenges. Events that could be defined as challenges, I consider to be opportunities--opportunities for reconsideration and charting of new directions, new options to think about, procedures and operations to enhance.
If I had to categorize an experience, my biggest challenge would have
been in community outreach. I started as a foot soldier working in the
community, working with families to introduce them to the benefits and
services of our organization. I experienced a lot of cynicism from the
families: it was difficult for families to believe that there were services
that would really benefit them and they could actually gain access to
those services. The families initially did not respond to our offer to
provide services to their challenged children. The families had listened
to others who had come into the community and made promises that never
materialized. We considered different approaches to counter community
cynicism and, as we used those strategies, we were able to show that we
have a delivery system in place with resources to help them to access
necessary medical services. We were able to overcome the reluctance to
participate in our program. As a result of our care coordination efforts,
the families began to promote the availability of services for their special
needs children from our organization in their community. We were able
to effect change to the benefit of families with children with special
needs and their communities.
A: I would advise leaders to listen with a good ear to families with special needs children and advocates of special needs children as they discuss their needs. Policymakers need to understand the plight of these families-not from a political standpoint of how policymakers can benefit, but how policymakers can provide a benefit to an underserved population. Policymakers need to be compassionate and design programs that are family-centered. They should visit the grass-roots community to speak to the families and not wait for the families to come to them. Policymakers should be more proactive in providing funding for the various support mechanisms needed by families with special needs children.
A: CCPH was the vehicle I chose
to gain a wider vision of health care policies and practices. I have benefited
from talking with others in the field to share experiences and discuss
policies. I was interested in information that could be brought back to
our organization and implemented as enhancements to our programs. Based
on my exposure to CCPH, we have developed partnerships with community
universities and community-based organizations to develop strategies and
initiatives. They help us build better preventive health care programs,
not only for our local communities, but on a national level as well.
A: It means community organizations linking with community campuses to design and develop approaches that work to benefit the community-both locally and at large. It means having mutual respect for the resources and capabilities of each other and being able to partner together for the community-locally, nationally, and globally. Increased partnerships result in opportunities to meet the challenges more effectively.
A: I appreciate the value of the forum that CCPH provides for opportunities to receive and exchange global ideas and concepts, to discuss health care concerns in the industry, to hear success stories and failures, and participate in national and international training. Gaining this balance of information broadens my perspective, which helps as I consider new approaches to our service delivery program. Great networking experiences and site visits!
The advocacy groups always tell us that organizations use families to
make statements but do not follow through with promises. Some agencies
lack understanding of the special challenges families with special needs
children face. As a result, the families set up their own barriers to
the provision of services. Initially, the families who are most involved
with our organization and support groups did not believe that managed
care wanted to meet their needs. The families rejected the explanation
of the care coordination model. The biggest challenge was to overcome
the resistance posed by the families to managed care services. It became
an opportunity to show them otherwise. We found that our presentation
of benefits followed by services provided in a timely manner made them
"believers." Finally, there was the belief that some agencies
deliver what they propose. Once services were offered and accepted by
the families, managed care was accepted and barriers were overcome. Our
disenrollment rate is the lowest in the industry.
A: I have nearly twenty years in managed health care. Being part of the precedent-setting concept of presenting managed care to the SSI and Medicaid population is a major strength. I bring an understanding of the concerns of the population served by my organization, having been involved as a community health representative, as an educator, and, now as a manager responsible for design and implementation of strategies for desired outcomes.
A: I am inspired by successful outcomes. I enjoy working with our parent support groups, which mirror the success of the strategies we implement. People are helped and they appreciate learning how to navigate complex systems for themselves. I like brokering partnerships with community-based organizations and area universities to develop training, research themes, and outcome measurements. As I work with the leadership of my organization, I am allowed to be creative in the development of projects and initiatives for the success of the program. I am proud to work with an organization that is recognized and respected in the community as a viable program for families with special needs children.