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Master’s Grad Leads State Program for Special Needs Children

Jan Fleming always planned on returning to the School of Nursing to complete a master’s degree with a specialty in children with special health care needs. Twenty years after completing her BSN, she finally did.

In the meantime her experience as a parent of a special needs child and as a nurse working in a variety of settings with these children taught her many lessons about the issues children and families face and the importance of family functioning on these children.

"These experiences were instrumental in preparing me for graduate school, and for the work I do now at the policy level."

Since 1990, Fleming has worked in the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) program in the Washington State Department of Health, a program she has managed since 1998. This program promotes an integrated system of services for infants and children who need special health care services, or who are considered at risk for needing them. Says Dr. Magyary: "Jan Fleming’s pivotal position at the state level exemplifies the leadership aspect of the ‘Nursing Leadership Enhancement’ program."

Among CSHCN’s many accomplishments under Fleming’s management are developing new methods for identifying children with special health care needs; implementing new strategies that allow family members to participate in health policy decisions; and creating new partnerships to assist in welfare reform and child care issues.

"The graduate program validated what I knew but also provided me with new information and insights. It very much set the stage for what I am doing now," observes Fleming.