Family Support Program Grows with New Hires
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Family Support Program Grows with New Hires

The Child Neurology Foundation is excited to announce the addition of two incredible women to our Family Support Program staff: Tara McKinnon as a Family Support Specialist, and Vivian Medrano as a social worker. 

Tara and Vivian will use their personal lived experiences along with educational and professional backgrounds to support the families who reach out to CNF looking for any kind of support. Read below to learn more about Tara and Vivian.

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Tara McKinnon, Peer Support Specialist

Tara McKinnon: Peer Support Specialist​

As CNF’s newest peer support specialist, Tara will be helping to provide emotional support to families that contact CNF.

Tara has had the unique opportunity to be a part of the special needs community since childhood by caring for her younger sister, and later as a mother when her son was born with a genetic condition.

With skills from her teaching degree and life, Tara has had the opportunity to work as a teacher, tutor, and in the BYU admissions department. Her moments of joy revolve around her family, quiet moments with a good book, and taking free online classes in areas that pique her curiosity and challenge her mind. 

What prompted you to take this role with CNF?  

Due to birth complications, my sister experienced oxygen deprivation, which led to moderate intellectual impairment. She is six years my junior, so I have always had a role in her care. When she was sixteen, I became her legal guardian, and she moved across the country to live with me. Her special education teacher became an invaluable resource as I slowly helped teach her personal hygiene skills, cooking skills, and social skills. She lived with me for the next two years as I strove to teach her to care for her needs. We were able to successfully transition her to living semi-independently. She loves her independence and talking to her friends online.

Fifteen years ago, my son was born with partial trisomy 16p. During the first few years, we faced surgeries, illnesses, feeding issues, growth issues, and so on. We spent a year learning to turn over, another year beginning to crawl, and a year learning to stand and take a few steps. As the years have gone by, the challenges have changed, but the process has not. When a new challenge arises, we research, break it down into manageable goals, and get to work.

Being a peer specialist is the perfect opportunity for me to use my life experiences to help others in a meaningful way.  

In your new role, what do you hope to help families with?

I want to share what I have learned through my journey in hopes that my experiences can help families feel more connected, heard, and valued.

If you could say one thing to families in the CNF network right now, what would it be?

“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of “Me too!” be sure to cherish them.”

― A.J. Downey, Cutter’s Hope

I love this quote by A.J. Downey. I cherish the families in the CNF network. As a community, we know how to celebrate each small victory, lift each other through our struggles, and give a non-judgmental space for our momentary lapses and reoccurring struggles to keep moving forward.  

vivian medrano

Vivian Medrano, Social Worker & Resource Navigator

Vivian Medrano: Social Worker​/Resource Navigator

Vivian Medrano was born and raised in sunny California. She has worked in the social service industry for over four years and in direct patient care for over 13 years. She has experience as a community health advocate, foster care social worker, and case manager.

Vivian is passionate about what she does and hopes to always make a positive impact on those around her. Vivian will help our families find social services through our Unite Us platform and ensure we get families to the next step in their journey.

She enjoys doing outdoor activities and reading a good book in her downtime.  

What prompted you to take this role with CNF?

I have always made it my goal to help families in need. I was drawn to CNFs mission of helping children and their families receive the best quality of care by providing information, education, and one-on-one support when needed the most. This is my area of expertise, and I wanted to be a part of that positive impact on our communities. Wherever I can assist, I will always give it my all.

What is one of the proudest moments of your life?

One of the proudest moments of my life was graduating with my master’s degree while having my two children present with me. They witnessed me accomplish my educational goal and take steps toward my career goals. Commitment, hard work, and passion for what you do are what I hope to instill in my children.

In your new role, what do you hope to help families with?

In my new role, I hope to help families find solutions to things they may struggle with. I plan to always be a family’s advocate, from the smallest requests to larger ones. I make sure to listen, understand their concerns, and find options that give the best possible outcome.

If you could say one thing to families in the CNF network right now, what would it be?

You are not alone on this journey. We are here to provide you with the helping hand and lending ear you need.

Is there anything else you want the CNF community to know about you?

Aside from my background, I enjoy volunteering in the community. Most recently, I participated in a Dr. Seuss Read With Me Event for over 600 children. In December, I also was involved in a Christmas Toy Drive, also for almost 600 children and their families.

Seeing the smiles on the faces of children and their families brings me so much joy.

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