A Car Seat for Chloe

Chloe is 8 years old.  She’s nearly 50 pounds and nearing 47 inches.

She’s totally outgrown her car seat.  Her toddler car seat.  Yes, Chloe is still in her toddler car seat.  You know, the toddler car seats that have a 40 pound weight limit.   Yes, it’s true.  She’s too tall for it and weighs too much for it.  She’s quite a bit taller and quite a bit heavier than the limit.

Every now and then for quite some time I have researched car seats.  Most of the seats that would be appropriate for Chloe (tall enough and heavy enough and still with a 5-point harness) are pretty expensive.  There are some special needs car seats which are very expensive.  And there are some conventional (over-the-counter) car seats that are cheaper but are still expensive — like $350.  Ouch.

I have heard from a couple of different sources that Medicaid sometimes pays for car seats for special needs kids.  It is a difficult process, and supposedly they only buy the really expensive special needs seats for the children.  The thing that drives me bonkers is that I don’t think Chloe needs a special needs seat.  Special needs car seats have many bells and whistles to help with a child’s needs, but the truth is she really only needs a normal but bigger seat.  She has head and trunk control and can get herself in and out of the car.  I think her needs would be met just dandy with a conventional seat priced at a quarter of the price of the special needs seats.  It’s a hang up I’ve had a hard time letting go of.  But I decided recently that I would just pursue getting a seat through Medicaid no matter what kind of car seat they decided on.

Well, like so many things with Medicaid, it has already been quite an ordeal.

Let me quickly communicate to you how much I love Medicaid.  I really do!  Without Medicaid, I have no idea what we would do with our medical bills and therapy costs.  I can’t even fathom that life would be possible if Chloe and Zippy didn’t have Medicaid.  Because of Medicaid, they have had the surgeries that they need, the therapies that were prescribed, the equipment that improves life, and the help and support when we need it.  I love Medicaid!

But Medicaid is such a government agency.  Its bureaucracy is unbelievably thick and set and complicated.  So many times I have been faced with days of an endless “run around” and hours and hours on hold.  Many times I work and work and work and call number after number after number to never find anyone who knows what I’m talking about — never find anyone who can help me.  It is exhausting and frustrating and brings many to tears, I am sure.

But the goal is to get the best for my child so I call another number and wait another half-day on hold and tell yet another person about my case.

I will spare you the details of the last few weeks of trying to get a car seat from Medicaid.  Instead I want to tell you about how Chloe did get a new car seat.  I want to tell you how we were blessed by a group of people who are committed to helping families keep their children safe.

After days and days of jumping through all kinds of hoops with Medicaid, and after days of one of Chloe’s nurses jumping through some hoops of her own, she finally called Cook Children’s Medical Center — our children’s hospital.  She told them our sob story of not getting anywhere with Medicaid, and the lady referred her to Cook’s Safe Kids organization.  I recognized the organization as one a good friend of mine was involved with years ago.  I called the number immediately.

Safe Kids USA

I had some great and helpful conversations with several women who really knew what they were talking about — one who is specially trained for fitting special needs kids into car seats.  She gave me an appointment for the next day.

The next day we found Safe Kids Tarrant County set up out in a parking lot of one of the clinics.  Chloe and I pulled up in my van with her in her way-too-small car seat which was nearly 10 years old.

To keep the story short, basically the lady had 3 or 4 seats which she had brought along for Chloe to sit in.  The car seat specialist, Sharon, was up in the van buckling, unbuckling, measuring, installing, and instructing.  She acted as though she had all day long to spend with us and that finding a safe seat for Chloe was the most important thing in the world.

She advised us on which ones seemed to fit Chloe best, trying to choose one with as much growth in it as possible since they’re so expensive.  From Sharon’s advice and suggestions, I wrote down the brand of the special needs car seat I was going to pursue for Chloe.  I also wrote down the conventional seat I would purchase if Medicaid doesn’t approve the special needs seat.

Cool.  Thanks, Sharon.  See ya.

But NO!  Sharon wasn’t done with us.  She proceeded to get one of the seats that we had tried Chloe in.  This particular seat, the Evenflo Generations 65, just barely fit Chloe.  It fit her pretty perfectly today, but in a month, she would likely outgrow it.  Sharon got the car seat and began working to install it in my car in place of Chloe’s old car seat.  Sharon explained to me that while there is no growth in this new seat for Chloe, it is a much safer seat for her to be in until we get her new one.  Chloe’s old seat was only tested up to 40 pounds; this new one was tested up to 65 pounds.  Sharon was giving us a new car seat.  Safe Kids gave us this brand new safe car seat.  Gave us.  Like — for free!

Evenflo Generations 65 Harness Booster Seat, Melbourne

I was amazed.  I still am amazed.  And that’s what Safe Kids does every day!  You can set up an appointment to get your car seat and installation inspected.  They are trained to know if the seat is a good one for your child, and they take the time to train you how to install the seat for safety.  Anything that’s not right, Safe Kids can help you fix — even if it means their giving you a brand new seat!

Our old, too-small seat?  Sharon kept it and will send it to be destroyed since it was expired.  Our new safe car seat?  Chloe’s been riding in it all week.  Truly amazing.  What a blessing!

Update on getting a special needs seat:  I found a DME (durable medical equipment company) who contracts with the brand that I chose for Chloe.  And I picked up the prescription for a car seat from Chloe’s doctor today.  I will make an appointment with the DME as soon as possible and get the ball rolling.

Meanwhile, Chloe’s riding in style and safety in her new seat!  🙂

(Safe Kids is able to give car seats to families that need them because of donations.  If you are interested in being a part of Safe Kids, consider donating to them.)

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by papa on September 4, 2010 at 3:58 PM

    WOW , WHAT A GREAT LOOKING SEAT FOR OUR LITTLE GIRL. COOKS IS A WONDERFUL CARING PLACE , AND THEIR PEOPLE HAVE HELPED OUR CHILDREN TIME AFTER TIME … I praise our FATHER for all of them. I know where our extra $$$$ will go. I agree with you that these folks are worthy of our support !! The seat fits , and is SAFE. 🙂

    Reply

  2. […] We had an appointment to get Chloe’s wheelchair adjusted.  This appointment took forever because she has grown so much and the chair was in such bad shape.  We did this appointment at school so Chloe wouldn’t have to miss more school.  Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there is much more growth in this wheelchair, and we’ve only had it for 2 years.  Medicaid only buys a chair every 5 years.  Bummer.  The guy said there are some ways we can sorta rig it and add growth.  Hopefully their creativity will get us through 3 more years.  This is the same DME that will help us get a car seat. […]

    Reply

  3. […] are still waiting to receive Chloe’s special needs car seat.  Medicaid has finally approved payment, and the doctor finally sent in the prescription, and […]

    Reply

  4. […] We have waited on this car seat for a long time. We were hoping Medicaid would pay for it, remember?  The process was ridiculously slow.  We had to write several letters of medical necessity.  The doctors had to respond and approve.  The therapists had to respond and approve.  It had to be approved through our private insurance.  And then it had to be approved by Medicaid. […]

    Reply

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