Marie-Josée L., a Special Needs Project advisor in Québec. Marie-Josée became the first francophone advisor for the Special Needs Project ten years ago. Today, there are six francophone advisors with the Special Needs/Moving On projects. Marie-Josée knows two of the other advisors. They often consult with each other when they need to think through an issue raised by a parent or provide a referral. For Marie- Josée, this team work is essential.
Marie-Josée has been interested in special needs issues for a long timeever since her close friendship at a young age to someone with a physical disability. By the time she came to the Special Needs Project, she had worked as an inclusion advisor for 10 years at two different agencies.
Marie- Josée has a caseload of 20 familiesthe maximum she feels she can handleand some have been with her from the beginning. Her relationship with the families is both professional and personal, going beyond filling out the required project forms every funding period. She feels her primary role is to support the families and understand their needs. When they talk on the phone, they tell her whats going on in their lives, including problems they might be having with the school system. With her level of experience and knowledge about available programs, she can sometimes help out with a referral to community resources or suggest how families might approach a specific issue.
Marie- Josée was initially surprised to learn that CUPW was sponsoring a project for members whose children have disabilities and feels this reflects well on the union. She also says governments should play a role in helping families whose children have disabilities. On a more personal level, she has a husband and 14-year-old daughter who are very supportive of her work. The family tries to get away twice a year on vacation. They go south in the winter to get away from the cold and snow in the Outaouais. She loves fashion and shopping for clothes in Québec City, and still models once in awhile.
She gets a great sense of satisfaction from her work, helping to bring some optimism and relief to the families lives. She finds it hard when families in greater need are not able to get more financial support. Shed also love to be able to meet her families face-to-face one day.