Celebrating Autism Awareness Month with Success: Program Manager Valerie Scott

By Sara Porcaro | Apr 6, 2021
Autism, Awareness, April, ABA, Behavior Analysis, Professional Development, Rhode Island, Disabilities, Recognition, Career Development
Program Manager Valerie Scott - Photo by Jessica Dantowitz

When one thinks ahead to where they'll be in a year--when they map out goals, skills they want to learn, areas of expertise they can push themselves in--such ambitious plans can appear daunting, but nonetheless exhilarating. Every day is an opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and do excellent work. However, for all one's plans, the world is unpredictable; ever-changing and presenting challenges impossible to predict, the past year especially has been a true test of professionals and businesses everywhere. That's why Perspectives is kicking off Autism Awareness Month with a spotlight from our Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) team, as one professional who has gone above and beyond to adapt, grow, and triumph throughout the pandemic--both as an individual and with her team--is Program Manager Valerie Scott!
Working within Perspectives Youth and Family Services, Valerie has been an integral part of the ABA team for over ten years. She started with Perspectives based on the recommendations she'd heard from peers and family members who also worked for the agency at the time. She knew she wanted to work with children, and starting with Perspectives as a Behavior Specialist, she was able to do just that, working directly with children and families to support them in achieving their goals and living healthy, happy lives. As she learned the ABA methods and found support and encouragement within her team, her ambition and dedication to individuals and their families pushed her to continue growing, and she soon worked her way up to become a Lead Therapist. Then, her career track pivoted to the administrative side, as she took on a role as Assistant Program Manager, then Program Manager.
"I fell in love with the work, and seeing the results and the appreciative families," says Valerie, "and I knew I didn't want to get too far away from the direct care work. As a Program Manager, I'm able to work both behind the scenes with the clinical team and directly with the families to ensure individuals are getting the hours and supports they need to succeed."
It's a role that requires one's communication, management, and coordination skills to be top notch, as Valerie's work is critical in ensuring that the Clinical Supervisors' and Treatment Coordinators' plans are delegated and carried out across the team's Behavior Specialists. Under Valerie's care and attention, the team's coordination runs smoothly, and with her experience as a Behavior Specialist, as well as her collaboration with the clinical team, she's able to bring balance to staff schedules, gather and distribute information to families and professionals quickly and efficiently, and provide critical support to the whole team as she oversees team operations.
"[Valerie] is like the glue that holds everything together," says Clinical Supervisor Shannon Ciccone, "and this past year, she's really come out on top and honed her skills as a Program Manager. She does the heavy lifting to coordinate the team, and she's taken the lead on staffing and other administrative work, making sure we run smoothly in an emergency situation like [COVID-19]."
"[Valerie] is like the glue that holds everything together, and this past year, she's really come out on top and honed her skills as a Program Manager."
In fact, this past year was one of the greatest challenges for the team, as the shelter-in-place not only brought a halt to the way Perspectives has always delivered their services, but required a whole new system to ensure families had access to crucial supports. The shift to virtual services was something that required adaptability and resilience from the whole team, and Valerie stepped up to the plate to make sure staff knew and adhered to new policies and guidelines, as well as redesign the way staff were able to deliver services. In the early days of the pandemic, with Behavior Specialists not allowed to work in more than two homes to minimize as much risk as possible, the balance of staff wellbeing to quality of services posed a huge challenge--and with Valerie's coordination and the team's dedication to individuals we support, the group effort to continue supporting families in whatever way possible was a success.
"I can't brag about my team enough," Valerie says. "They rolled with the punches and soldiered on throughout the pandemic, and thanks to them, our families adapted well to the new policies and procedures, too."
"There are so many moving parts because of COVID-19," Shannon notes, "and Valerie's been a hub of information between us all, including with new employees who have questions about how we operate during the pandemic. We're grateful to have her with us, doing this work; it's a tough job, and she does it so well."
From telehealth services to several guidelines to decrease the risk of spreading COVID-19, including daily health screenings and limited number of staff per household, Valerie and her team have been able to provide families support in these uncertain times. And thanks to their diligence, they've even been able to return to a level of safe in-person service very similar to pre-pandemic efficiency, ensuring families have their needs met in the way that works best for them. With Valerie's coordination at the helm, as well as her efforts to ensure the team feels supported by providing appreciation gifts, open forums for discussion, and team-building check-ins, the ABA team is going strong--and they're looking for more dedicated professionals to come aboard!
"It's a great working environment at Perspectives," Valerie says, "and if you're looking to learn about ABA and willing to work hard, you'll fit right in here. Our team is so supportive, with great mentors to help out with any questions our employees may have on the job."
This April, we're recognizing the amazing work done in the ABA team to keep individuals and their families happy, healthy, and reaching their goals--and we're grateful to Valerie for stepping up to the plate during one of the most challenging years yet. With the time she's spent at Perspectives, she's gained not only plenty of new skills and experience along her career journey, but also the respect and appreciation of her peers. As we forge ahead, we're giving her many thanks for her work, and looking forward to many more years with her on the team!


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