Quick Five! 5 Questions with PEAL’s F2F Coordinator Kelly King
Quick Five! is a series from PEAL where we ask a member of staff five questions about their work at the PEAL Center. Today we hear from Kelly King.
What is your main role as the F2F Coordinator for the PEAL Center?
I educate and assist families who have questions or concerns related to their children and youth with special health care needs. There are a variety of issues that I can address that are connected to health care, both in and outside of schools. This includes physical and behavioral/mental health. Both families and professionals contact PEAL with a broad range of questions related to health care — most fall under the categories of partnering with providers, early and continuous screening, access to a medical home, insurance and funding, transition to adult health care, and navigating systems and services.
You became an advocate when your son was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder — what is a memorable advocacy moment?
I have always had a desire to learn and grow; feeling that I could help others with the knowledge that I possess. I would not describe any one event as a point in which I became an advocate. As a former educator, I would describe myself as always standing up for what I believe to be right and in the best interest of the individual. I am always delighted to hear how a problem has been remedied and the child or youth is getting what they need to make meaningful progress — physically, mentally, behaviorally, or academically.
What is a piece of advice you would give families who live in more rural areas of PA about accessing health care supports and services for their children or youth?
While services and providers can be sparse in the rural areas of PA, my advice would be to take advantage of what is available and advocate for what your family need. There are many supports that you may not realize are out there — the PEAL Center is one. We serve the entire state, and while we may not have an office in your neighborhood, we can assist families by phone or email to learn about resources and to advocate for their needs.
You have co-led a few PEAL Parent (Family) Leadership Institutes, can you tell us a little bit about this program and some of its main benefits?
I have had the privilege of working with many well-informed and knowledgeable parents of children with special needs who have the capacity to make a difference. These family members have the ability to represent and help others individually, within organizations, and through legislative avenues. The Family Leadership Institute brings families together to hone their skills and to learn from one another to develop those skills and empower them to act on their abilities.
What is your ultimate goal when working with families who have children or youth with special health care needs?
My interest is to help families learn to help their children. This may mean providing them with information or resources to access what they need, to discuss next steps and just to listen. Families are a constant in the life of our children with special needs. I believe that increasing the knowledge and skill of the family ultimately helps the child.