Jacque Clifton knows first-hand the challenges of parenting a child with developmental disabilities.
Her son, Austin, was born in 1994 with a rare genetic syndrome that left him with multiple medical problems.
Clifton quickly became involved in the disability community to build a support network and maneuver through various programs.
In 2005, Clifton started Advocate Care Services to help other families.
“I thought I could help other families figure this out,” said Clifton, the agency’s president. “If you don’t work in this field, it can be pretty scary.”
It has a staff of seven.
Medicaid requires families on Kansas Medicaid Developmental Disability Waivers to use a payroll and billing service to pay caregivers.
Advocate Care Services is an approved Medicaid provider. It collects the time sheets, tracks paperwork and pays caregivers with funds the families receive from the state.
It bills Medicaid and files claims for those with private insurance.
Advocate Care Services also does background checks and training for caregivers. And it sets up interviews between families and potential caregivers, if needed.
The agency works with case managers and community organizations that deal with developmental disabilities in multiple Kansas counties.
The state pays it for processing the paperwork and for training.
Advocate Care Services has found a niche of helping families with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, Clifton said.
“I can share what I have learned,” she said.
The agency has grown in the past 13 years. In its first year in business, it served 12 families. In 2012, it served more than 300.
“There’s definitely a need for the service,” Clifton said.
Clifton has seen many changes in the industry over the years. For one, it’s become more formalized.
Three years ago, the state required companies to reapply to be providers and have specific policies and procedures in place.
Many providers that had not kept up with the changes left the field.
Last year, Advocate Care Services implemented an electronic time sheet and verification system. This year, it’s adapting to a new system as Kansas continues to implement KanCare. The state’s developmental development group is to be rolled into KanCare – a privatized version of Medicaid – beginning in January.
One concern Clifton has is the long wait children who need services often encounter.
A 5- or 6-year-old, for example, diagnosed today with developmental delays can expect about a five-year wait.
Before starting Advocate Care, Clifton worked with the visually impaired at Envision, then joined the Independent Living Resource Center, where she did legislative and advocacy work and marketing and public relations.
In 2005, she reflected on what she had learned in her experiences to see what she could offer others.
Advocate Care Services was the result.
The company is a people-focused business, Clifton said.
“The care is the heart of the company,” she said.
Besides Austin, now 18, the Cliftons have a 14-year-old daughter, Ashley.