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Little T was finally approved for the California Children's Services Medical Therapy Program a California government program that provides Occupational and Physical therapy free of charge to children from birth to 21. We received an offical CCS card.

I wish I'd known about CCS when I was a child. But then I might not gotten services anyway. It was a royal pain to get approved. His hospital sent the original request in October. And we've only been approved, several more steps away from actual therapy. Even though Little T clearly qualifies, his diagnosis didn't fit their standard list. I kept calling and Little T's OT did as well. Finally CCS reopened the case and then approved him.

I took a negotiations class at Haas. The skills I've learned are invaluable in dealing with government agencies like Early Start or CCS, or even sclerotic customer service organizations. I used the methods described below to get a full cash refund from Fry's on a laptop that I had opened and returned after the deadline.

  1. 1. I keep a record of names, numbers and times. Otherwise they all get confused in my mind.

  2. When I talk to someone, I address them by name. I'm always polite but persistent. I need help and I tell them why. My voice has a tone of urgency and concern. That person has the power of information or is a gatekeeper. I want to give them the satisfaction of helping me. Most people get pleasure from helping someone who's appreciative. And I've found that polite requests for help are rarely refused.

  3. If the person can't help me, I ask for the name and number of someone who can. I don't end the conversation until a)I've either gotten the answer I need, or b)a date to call back to get the answer I need, or c)the name of a person who is supposed to give me the answer.

For Early Start and CCS in particular, here's what I did.
  1. I made a request by calling their main number.

  2. In week or two, the government agency is supposed to send me a letter with a case manager who's evaluating his eligibility.
  3. I hadn't received the letter in two weeks, so I called and asked if he had an application open.

  4. I carefully read all the documents I've given. Often government agencies are required by law to do certain things which is outlined in one of the documents. The document is often faded with tiny type.

  5. I called the case manager and introduced myself.

  6. I used the method I described above to go through all the steps needed to get treatment for Little T.
    1. Evaluation interview or review of medical records
    2. Approval
    3. Referral to an agency who will provide the services
    4. Agency assigns a person who will actually treat Little T
    5. Person makes first apt to see Little T

After 4 months and numerous calls to Early Start, they sent a wonderful therapist to our house. The scheduler initially gave us an initial evaluation interview that would have pushed things out too far past the 45 day deadline. I said "I read in the Patients Rights and Responsibilities that the IFSP must be completed with 45 days of the referral. If I have the interview two days before the deadline, that doesn't give enough time to complete the IFSP, does it?" She said no, but this was the date she had. I asked who managed the schedule and she gave me the name of her supervisor. I called and got an earlier time.

And now you know one of the many reasons I don't work outside the home. It's a job in itself to get services for Little T and manage his appointments.

Do you have any tips for dealing with government agencies? Please comment here.