At Open Sky, family support begins on day one. Our Family Care Coordinators are dedicated to supporting parents from the day a student arrives, through graduation.
A Family Care Coordinator (FCC) is a family’s administrative point person at Open Sky throughout their entire journey in the program. They are a friendly and familiar voice on the other end of the phone if parents have questions, are seeking information, or are in need of support and connection.
The support of the FCC begins with a welcome email on the student’s arrival day. This is the first point of contact at Open Sky after working with the Admissions Team throughout the application and enrollment process. The welcome email gives access to the secure online Parent Portal and lists our available parent resources. This email is followed up with a phone call the next day to set up the parents’ first weekly phone call with the child’s therapist and answer questions through what can be an overwhelming transition.
FCCs also manage and track important paperwork throughout the student’s stay: medical information, immunization records, power of attorney, clinical evaluation, and all other legal, medical, and therapeutic history and documentation. The student’s history is given to field guides as soon as the student enters the team, so that staff can provide the best and most individualized care to each student.
In addition to paperwork, FCCs manage student photos and letters and post them to the family’s parent portal once a week. This is an exciting day each week for families, as parents are able to have a glimpse of their child in the field, as well as communicate with them through letter writing. FCCs also support scheduling and logistics for the Family QuestTM experience, Wellness Weekend, and graduation.
Our FCCs are devoted to making the Open Sky process as smooth as possible for families. JJ Simms works with families of adolescent girls, Hunter King works with families of young adults, and Amanda Rosenholtz-Witt works with families of adolescent boys. JJ, Hunter, and Amanda make up an experienced, caring, and professional team of Family Care Coordinators. Get to know more about the role and each of them in the Q&A to follow!
Q: What is your previous experience with Open Sky? How does it inform your work as FCC?
JJ: I’ve worn many hats at Open Sky. I started in 2015 as the Research Coordinator, then became a Field Guide, and then came back to the office side of things and worked as an Administrative Assistant. I’ve also worked as a Transporter and covered for the Food Manager. By working in each of these departments—whether short or long term—I have witnessed how all of the cogs in the machine work together and understand how many of our processes work. Having a visceral understanding allows a lot of perspective. I’m also the passion behind our ongoing research! Having the experience as a field guide and transporter is also valuable to my role as FCC. For example, I’ve been with students through the intake and outfitting process, I’ve worn the gear through the elements in the field, I know what a Safety Watch looks like for a student. There are tons of protocols, intention behind the protocols, and diligence in carrying them out. It is gratifying to be able to tell parents with confidence and experience, YES, your child is well-cared for.
Hunter: I started at Open Sky as Compliance Administrator. I tracked student paperwork, letters, and photos. From there, I transitioned into the role of Clinical & Family Services Coordinator. That role was more focused on talking to parents about the parent portal and scheduling calls, Wellness Weekend, and Family Quest. So, the Family Care Coordinator is basically a combination of those two roles. I love that this role allows me to combine my deep care for families, my expansive knowledge of the Open Sky program, and my enthusiasm for collaborating with almost every department here.
Amanda: Prior to becoming a Family Care Coordinator, I was a transporter for a few years, have supported the Food Manager, and have shadowed Wellness Weekend. I have a great perspective because I’ve seen the field and know the day-to-day. I get excited to tell families about how awesome the food is, for instance, and assure them their son or daughter is being taken care of physically, mentally, and nutritionally. That’s such an important part of wellness. I know firsthand what the intake process is like. As a transporter, I was invested in showing up and being a positive influence as the first face the student will meet. Transporters come with the attitude and perspective of: We know this is challenging and we’re here to make this a good day and easeful transition. Now as a Family Care Coordinator, I have the opportunity to support the transition and the family in a similar way.
Q: What do you value most about the FCC role?
JJ: The thing I value the most is witnessing the progress of the student and the parents and family. I love sorting student photos and letters, as well as their weekly goals, because I get to watch students grow, change, and celebrate milestones. I love knowing when a student has a call with their parents, or when the parents attend Wellness Weekend or the Family QuestTM intensive, because I can personally check in afterward with the parents. By bearing witness to some of these experiences (even if we’re not in the field!), we can be a pillar of support throughout the student and family’s progress. Something I really value is that as a family’s point person, they share with us their gratitude for all of Open Sky. It’s really special to receive those words and updates on the organization’s behalf. It’s also humbling to hear how we as FCCs played a role in supporting them through this journey.
Hunter: In all areas of life, I love being able to offer what I can for everyone. In this role, I really value being a resource for the therapists. I know they have a lot going on with providing the best care and treatment possible for our students, so it is important to me to be a constant support for them. I love being there for parents too. Whether the parents reach out every week or hardly ever, they know they have us to support them, listen to them, and answer questions that arise. I love the aspect of building relationship with them over time and seeing the change from day one to graduation.
Amanda: The family involvement at Open Sky is something that I’m personally invested in and passionate about. Rather than focusing solely on the student, we consider how we can support the whole family system, which is such an awesome approach. As Family Care Coordinator, I value being an integral part of that family experience. My favorite thing is to interface with parents, and I love answering their questions. Often, parents just need a point of connection throughout the process. That’s okay and I’m able and willing to be that kind of support in a challenging time or life transition. I have a lot of compassion and understanding for these families and do not take their situations or needs lightly.