In 2005, Joan Lockhart founded ParentsCAN. Joan and her husband Bob are the parents of Robert and Katie. Katie's birth was the life - changing event that made Joan become a passionate advocate, working on behalf of families raising children with special needs.
Katie was born with multiple disabilities; including cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, and autism. "You feel totally shocked and devastated when you learn your child has a disability" said Joan. "Nine months of dreaming, planning, 'seeing' our children play and grow together as siblings and friends was suddenly blown away! More than thirty years later, it is still difficult to talk about."
As a parent and advocate, Joan was very active in the educational process for her daughter. Joan adheres to the philosophy that we tend to model the behavior and efforts of those with whom we spend time. This led her to fight for more inclusion and independence for her daughter. Joan then became intensely involved in parent advocacy groups. For more than 25 years she devoted herself to advocating for the rights of disabled children at the local, state and national levels and to building relationships with professionals to help them understand the parent's point of view.
"Parent support groups are vital to families. I learned that having the support of someone who has been there is the key element in helping families survive, stay together, and even thrive in the midst of the incredible challenges that having a child with disabilities can bring to the entire family" said Joan. ParentsCAN is here to provide this parent-to-parent support throughout Napa County.
Joan and Bob were honored as the ParentsCAN "2013 Parents of the Year." ParentsCAN Board President, Helga Grayson said with heartfelt emotion, "It is because of Joan's leadership and determination that our community provides its families of children with special needs the hope, guidance and support necessary to provide their children with the best future possible."
When Joan retired from ParentsCAN in 2013, her successor Marlena Garcia shared, "Joan was by our side when my family struggled to get services for my brother many years ago. Working alongside Joan for the past 10 years, I have been inspired by her passion and dedication to families. I look forward to continuing the important work she started, to support every child with special needs, one family at a time."
ParentsCAN would like to invite you to join us for an hour long, informational, on-site visit at our Family Center to learn more about the current state of care for children with special needs and how our programs support those children and their families.
Call 707-253-7444 to schedule a visit for yourself or your group.