Well, that was fast.
Jesse took a half day off of work on Thursday and the full day off on Friay and we put in some overtime on what we titled our “Living Matrix”. We created a spreadsheet that includes 20 different categories*, assigned a different weight, and each state was given a score of one to three (three being the best).
We began plugging numbers into the matrix and the difference in the scores became more and more drastic and we quickly went from 12 states down to five. California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington.
By the end of the day on Friday, as much as I tried, I could not find the sweet spot in Massachusetts or New York that would be A) close enough to the airport for Jesse to travel for work and B) far enough from the airport that we could conceivably afford to live there. Both of those states scored low on the “Work Support” scale anyway, so we removed them from the running, leaving us with California, Colorado and Washington.
A quick word about Washington: We thought Washington didn’t have any services we needed, because when we originally moved here, we applied for support from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and we were denied. For our current research, we dug out the application and denial of three years ago, as well as the reports we had submitted and surmised that if we had simply appealed the decision at the time, we would have likely been approved in the end.
Washington actually has a good amount of services that are appropriate for Jessica. She has been involved in an “Access-To-Recreation” camp this summer, which serves special needs individuals until the age of 21 or 22, at which point they can transition to a “Community Outreach” camp. There are also four different categories of Medicaid waivers, and, of course, we have made some wonderful heart connections here.
However, California has the strongest heart support, as well as some great programs we are already aware of. It is fun to think about Jessica returning to services at UC Davis out-patient and there is a special needs school in our old stomping grounds that we once toured for Jess that we gave great consideration and weight.
But then… while Jesse was out at the lake with Jocelyn and her bestie, I set about to research the Brain Injury Alliance/Associations in each of the states. BIAs are organizations that help raise awareness about brain injuries, and provide resources for survivors and their families. Honestly, this was mainly research for Colorado’s BIA, since I am already pretty familiar with both California’s and Washington’s.
What I found on Colorado’s site was very exciting.
Colorado’s BIA is launching a “case management program” this summer.
“Through a competitive bidding process with the State of Colorado, the Brain Injury Alliance of Colorado (BIAC) has been awarded an opportunity to greatly expand our services to children/youth and adults with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). These services are free to anyone with a brain injury who lives in Colorado. There are no income or insurance eligibility criteria to participate.”
They will have case managers in each region of the state, they will call to check in on survivors and the services are available from youth into adulthood.
Jesse got home and after getting the girls settled into bed, he dug into their waiver programs and school options and we found that the services available are very competitive with Washington’s. Super competitive. Okay, seriously? Colorado blows Washington out of the water. Traffic fines and other state taxes give Colorado’s Department of Education $2,000,000 a year to provide TBI training in all of their school districts (my early research found that it was specific to one) and they are the author of THIS manual, which I have seen on many different resource sites.
More than what I have found on the east coast, Colorado seems to have their crap together with respect to brain injuries. They seem to have services everywhere, and it looks like they just seem to keep pushing forward.
It’s the kind of place we want to be. So, it seems my sixth-grade dream is coming true. (I did my state report on Colorado.)
Nil Sine Numine.
(I wrote this late at night, so wanted to update it to say: Before we put the scores for the programs and services into the matrix, there was only a half of a point separating Washington from Colorado. As excited as we are about the possibilities of services, it was a very tough decision.)
* Because there might be some data/numbers geeks out there who would be interested in this stuff, here are the categories we used and the weight assigned to them.
Work Support (Double)
Heart Support (Double)
Programs Offered (Double)
General Waiver vs. TBI Waiver (Double)
State Politics (Double)
Jesse’s Choice (Full)
Jolene’s Choice (Full)
Best/Worst States for Disabilities Ranking (Full)
Work Travel Impact (Full)
Anecdotal Evidence re: Services (Full)
Divine Guidance (Full)
Cost Of Living/Likelihood of Homeownership (Full)
Brain Injury Association/Alliance (Full)
Outdoor Recreation (Half)
Moving Expenses (Half)
Travel time to airport (Half)
CMN Hospitals (Quarter)