Published: October 19, 2023
Peg Ricardo has been a case manager with Bridgewell’s Family Support Center in Lynn since 2021, after several years in a similar position with another provider. She had also previously worked in financial services, and is a mother of a child with disabilities. We asked Peg a few questions about her work.
Who is served by Bridgewell’s Family Support Center?
Bridgewell’s FSC is the cultural and linguistic family support center on the North Shore that works with diverse, traditionally underserved populations. It is contracted through the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and serves families that receive support from DDS who are caring for a loved one with a disability age 3 and older. We really cover the whole lifespan, helping people with a loved one who is still living at home to find the resources and supports they need to keep those individuals at home and out of congregate care. Caring for a 5-year-old is much different than caring for someone who is elderly. We take what we know and help families learn to navigate the system on their own and carry on through the lifespan. People may be referred to the FSC by DDS, but the team also does a lot of outreach, going to schools and community events. I find people (who can benefit from our services) in places like the grocery store all the time.
As a case manager, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I feel like this role is so varied. The top skill is listening because we really stress meeting people where they’re at. We take what we know and help families learn to navigate the system to meet their needs. We are an information and referral source, providing targeted lists of resources to connect families to the help they need, but it also includes event planning for activities; collaboration with outside agencies; and building partnerships. We will work with them on how to access potential funding they might receive related to their loved one’s disability. How stipends are spent help to tell a story that is important on a higher level for state budget advocacy. As a parent of a child with a disability, a lot of what we do applies to my own life. It has really helped to inform decisions down the road.
What is the best part of your job?
I love this work. Families who have a loved one with a disability can feel very isolated and something as simple as going for a walk can be really overwhelming. To help families find the supports they need to try new things and take a few steps outside their bubble – seeing them grow and become advocates for their family member; reach out to other parents, and build a support network, it’s just so rewarding. I also love seeing the individuals gain confidence – the activities that we do are a low-risk way for the individuals to try things out in the community that may seem scary and break down barriers.
Why do you like working for Bridgewell?
It’s nice that Bridgewell offers so many services, so even if family support can’t address the need, we can connect them to other services and they are able to stick with Bridgewell throughout the lifespan. Personally, I feel heard if I have feedback or an idea for my colleagues. I can reach out to anyone at any level of the organization. I feel like my contributions are valued.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a FSC case manager?
If you really enjoy direct support work, by coming here you will be helping in a different way: You’re giving people the tools to build their circle of support. You will take what you know about the people in your care and help them expand their communities. It never gets boring. I’m learning new stuff all the time. This is an excellent job for a parent of an individual with a disability. You’re able to connect with the families more authentically.
Can you see yourself in a role like Peg’s?
Open Family Support Center positions: