Why My Son Jairo, and All Texas Kids, Deserve Access to Mental Health Services

My son Jairo is a wonderful artist. If he could, Jairo would stay in his room all day, drawing portraits of himself and his family. He is a creative, active seven-year-old who has been diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, and Bipolar disorder. My whole world stops for Jairo, and my husband and I do our best to make sure Jairo and our two other children are safe, happy, and healthy. Community-based programs have made an incredible difference for our family and ensure we remain strong.

Because of Texans Care for Children, and their success promoting life-changing, community-based services for kids like Jairo, we are not alone on this journey.

Texans Care makes sure that community-based programs are there to help us. Programs like the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) waiver, for example, allow my son to receive assistance we otherwise could not afford. Jairo has a personal therapist that comes to our house and uses art to help him better cope with his daily routines, and we have a counselor who meets with the entire family once a month.

These services have changed my life and have helped me become a better mom. Without them, I would not have the education and tools to better address Jairo’s behavior and help him cope with his challenges. We are able to get Jairo the services he needs because parent advocates like Patti Derr help us find them, and policy advocates like Texans Care make sure policymakers offer them in the first place.

Did you know that a child living in Texas has less of a chance of receiving necessary mental health treatment than children living in any other state? When families don’t have access to the services their children may need, kids like Jairo can end up hospitalized, or in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. Community-based services help prevent families from being unnecessarily torn apart.

Our work must continue to ensure our state is a place that keeps families together. This upcoming legislative session, I will stand with Texans Care to call on the Legislature to expand programs like the YES waiver to serve more kids throughout our state. Jairo is so much more than his diagnoses, and community-based services will help him reach his potential in his community, in his home, and with his family. Together, let’s continue to ensure all families have a voice at the Capitol and strong support systems are in place to help them thrive.