Sunday, October 2, 2011

Explaining a PCA

I have mentioned Addison's PCA (or lack thereof) here on the blog numerous times, and I have had many people ask me what that is and how you might go about getting one. I thought that my second post of 31 for 21 would be a perfect chance to explain our experience with this program.
PCA stands for Personal Care Assistant. It is a government provided service to children who need extra help above and beyond their "normal" peers (income level has nothing to do with this- it is purely based on the child's need)
Children with Down syndrome often don't qualify for this service because they do everything that their typical peers do, just on a slightly delayed schedule. (some states are much more strict about this than others)
But when Miss Addison was very new, she was on 24 hours of oxygen and had a g-tube. Therefore, when it came time for me to go back to work, I couldn't put her in daycare. That is why our service coordinator (who lines up all of our therapists and does our evaluations every six months) sat down with us and filled out an application for Addison to get a PCA who would come to our house and watch Addison one on one (one of the rules is that it MUST be one on one...that's the whole point of the program. The PCA cannot watch any other children at the same time)

Once we were approved, this government agency assigned us a certain amount of hours a week based on the need. They gave us 20 hrs (which we were told is a LOT and rather rare for them to give that much) But it covered perfectly the time that I was working. I put a Craigslist ad out and interviewed several girls (they pay $10 an hour).

I hired the girl that we felt most comfortable with and who interacted the best with Addison. The government agency sent us an application packet for our newly chosen PCA to fill out, including permission forms for background checks and normal paperwork that you might fill out for any job.

Every two weeks the PCA fills out a timesheet, gives it to me to sign and then I mail it in to the agency (they even send me pre-stamped envelopes). The PCA is then sent a check directly from the government agency (or can do direct deposit.)
If we don't use all 20 hours one week, we can save them up and use extra the next week (we can save them for up to six months) Every other week, I'm sent the number of hours that we have left for the six months and how much the PCA was paid on the most current paycheck.
Once a year, a child is re-evaluated to determine if they still need this service. Since Addison is no longer on oxygen and doesn't have her g-tube anymore, I was sure that our hours were going to be taken away. However, this particular government agency decided to "save money" and just carry over all of last year's hours.
As I need the help badly to keep up with all of Addison's appointments etc and can't really afford to hire someone on my own- this service has been a HUGE blessing.

(Update on Addison's current PCA: the one we had last year but had to quit in June is now coming back to do some mornings...and Addison's Aunt Kenly has been doing some afternoons. The PCA that I told you about before? NEVER REPLIED BACK when I wrote her saying I was willing to give her another chance. Talk about burning bridges...)

There you go. PCA simplified. I know we are horribly spoiled, but honestly I don't think I could have made it this past year without this help. Yes, I'm a wimp. I'm well aware...(I'm sure all of you could handle 2 doctor's appointments and 3 therapy appointments a week while working and trying to run a household. I am just not super woman enough...)


  1. Spoiled?? I don't think so! You completely deserve this service! I have enough trouble keeping up with one completely healthy baby/toddler as a SAHM! I can't imagine how difficult it would have been (and still would be) having to deal with all the extra equipment, appointments and Addison's delicate health early on! I've actually thought on multiple occasions how you are pretty much super woman....managing to hang on to a job while balancing your family and Addison's appointments AND a pregnancy. Dang girl. You pretty much rock!

  2. Addison, I'm very sorry someone took the awesome black bag away and made you cry like that. Don't people know to never take a girl's new black bag away from her. (...Oh may or may not have been for 'Carter's' stuff...) ;)

  3. That does sound like a great service- no one is super enough to deal with all that alone :) Lovin the red hat!!

  4. Oh my gosh!! After giving her a second chance she didn't even have the decency to respond!! RUDE! Oh, and I love Chubbs outfit! Too cute :)

  5. I love all the precious pictures! What a great service! I don't know how I would have made it through the first two years without my teenagers to help me.

  6. I had a job once working as a PCA for an adorable little boy.I too am glad that they offer this service.:)I am glad that the PCA never showed up.She sounds so irresponsible and Addison deserves better!!!:)Looking forward to all the posts and pictures too.

  7. What wonderful pictures!

    You are not spoiled. It is good to see tax payer dollars going to people who truly need it.

    Blessings to you and your wonderful family.

  8. Oh, I wouldn't call you spoiled at all, just blessed and very fortunate to have the extra help. I think all of us would use it if we were able to get it :-) I hope you are getting some sleep these days!

  9. This is a great service you get for Addison. I hope you will get it for many more months.

    Love the pictures too


  10. That's great that they carried your hours over to this year too!


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