“Public services are important to me because life here is so expensive, it is very difficult to survive without public services. They are a necessity over anything.”

Location: San Mateo County

For Lupita (46), health care and public services were out of reach when she first moved to San Mateo County. She worked as a waitress in a small restaurant earning less than the minimum wage and was paid in cash. Her family’s immigration status and the inability to prove her income disqualified her application for MediCal and other public services. Without access to the public service system in her community, health care for her young daughter was extremely expensive, especially for a family living on a small income in the Bay Area, where the cost of living is sky high. It was painful to pay for medical bills out of her small income, but slowly Lupita made every payment. 

While it was reassuring to have MediCal when she got pregnant with her second child, Lupita had a more difficult and emotionally unstable pregnancy. Early on in her pregnancy, through the stress and depression, she knew that there was something wrong with her baby. 

Her baby, Salvador, was born with uncontrollable irritability. He cried day and night. Hospital nurses recommended love and pampering but there was nothing Lupita could do to calm him down. She asked for advice and support but feeling desperate for answers, she took her son to Gardner Packard Children’s Health Center. 

Salvador was indeed in need of specialized services and was immediately enrolled to receive services from Abilities United. He now has a behavioral coach, speech therapist, psychologist, and family doctor working together to ensure he receives the services he needs—all of which are covered under MediCal and Abilities United. These are public services that her family could not go without.

At three years old, Salvador aged out of the program and provision of services became the responsibility of the school district. This shift became another challenge to overcome. It took Lupita ten visits to the school district office for her request for services to be addressed. Although it has been difficult, she is thankful for the public service system that gives her children the health care they need and deserve.     

Saul, Lupita’s third child, was also born with special needs. The challenges to obtain public services for Saul are similar. The boys are now 12 and 9 years old. Through all the ups and downs, Lupita’s voice in advocating for the services they need is unwavering.  

Get to know Lupita

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Public services are a need because the cost of living is too high in the Bay Area.

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Her second pregnancy was challenging in many ways. Lupita realized something was wrong.

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Her kids’ love is Lupita’s reward.


Feelings about having to use and using services


Lupita talks about the challenges with seeking and receiving special needs services for her children.

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Lupita talks about her experience and the need to be persistent when requesting special needs services for her children.

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Seeing her boys graduate from college is her biggest dream.


Public service eligibility

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Her immigration status prevented her from accessing housing programs and supports.

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Having a California ID changes everything – it makes things, like services and supports, more accessible.

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The response and denial from school administrators made Lupita feel helpless and ridiculed.


Using public services


Lupita talks about her first time applying for MediCal and how the lack of access impacts her family.

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Childcare & Early Learning

The lack of programs for children with special needs should be a priority “because these little people need services the most.”

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Lupita’s family, like many others, was displaced from their apartment and were forced to move to a new community.

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Ideas for Change

Lupita would like to see the service workforce address people in need with respect and willingness to help.