About Us

How We Help

The Northern Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) is a resource for families with children (0-22) who have any type of disability or need help finding a diagnosis.

We also offer parent support with loans from our resource library, scholarships to training and conferences, peer support from staff with lived experiences, and referrals to our statewide Parent-to-Parent support network. The Northern Regional Center office is located in Wausau, Wisconsin and supports 15 counties and 6 tribes. Staff are available to help problem-solve, provide information or make referrals to community, state, and national resources. We regularly travel in the area so can drop off resources, meet for coffee, or host a training in your home community.

The Northern Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) is funded by the Public Health Division of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, through the Maternal and Child Health Title V Services Block Grant. More information about the network of CYSHCN programs in Wisconsin is available here: northernregionalcenter.org/about/cyshcn-network/

Our Staff- use the Contact Us page to reach out to any of us for help

Allison Lourash, Program Manager

Hello, I am so excited to use over 20 years of personal and professional experience working with families who are navigating systems at the Northern Regional Center. Being born with a physical disability, as well as other personal experiences, has shaped my career and this role is a great fit as I love connecting people to resources and information. Before coming to the Northern Regional Center, I worked in adult systems serving people with disabilities in variety of roles around increasing employment and community connections. I also have a strong interest in transition from my work coordinating accommodations at a college and having been an advocate for families by providing transition resources and training. 

Allison Lourash

Hello- My name is Sandi Walkush, and I am excited to serve families in Northern Wisconsin. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, but I didn’t get involved with disability issues until my son was diagnosed with Autism in 2010. At the time, I found it difficult to find the resources I needed, so I decided to learn as much as I could to help other families. For seven years, I worked as a disability advocate and Independent Living Consultant, giving me the knowledge and connections to be a Resource Guide at Children Resource Center- North. Having been through the transition process myself, and then recently with my son, has given me a unique perspective on how to make the leap from child to adult successful. I look forward to assisting you with the resources you need.

Hello, I am Sherri Malchow, and I am so excited to be part of the Children’s Resource Center-North team with such amazing and passionate professionals working together for you and your family. I am excited to serve children and their families in this new role that will use my experiences as a paraprofessional working within the public school system with students with special needs for over 11 years, my experience as a parent and adoptive parent to a child with multiple special needs, and my education in the Human Services field. As a parent and caregiver, I have been there searching for ways to help my child & family and look forward to helping you find the resources you need to support your child and family in your community, at school, and at home.

Sara Owens-Keenan

Hello there! My name is Sara Owens-Keenan, and I’m so happy and honored to serve in a role that blends my experience as a parent of an Autistic child and previous career as a clinical social worker. I reached out to the regional center looking for caregiver support after my child was diagnosed, and I feel passionate about and motivated to offer others the same resources and support I received. I appreciate learning from peoples’ unique lived experiences and then facilitating access to information, services, and additional connections based on that. Prior to joining the Northern Regional Center, I worked as a stay-at-home parent for two children. Prior to that, I worked with youth and families experiencing mental health issues across a variety of settings, including schools, outpatient mental health centers, and psychiatric hospitals.

picture of Sara smiling, outside with trees in the background

CYSHCN Philosophy

We believe that:

  • Children are best served within their family
  • Children and families are best supported within the context of their community
  • Families need to have convenient access to care coordinators
  • Collaboration is the best way to provide comprehensive services
  • Family perspectives and presence must be included in all aspects of the system.

Our goal is to meet the needs of children and youth with special needs by focusing on the unique strengths of family members, responding to all requests in a timely manner, by finding resources as close to home as possible and by working with local partners collaboratively to serve the children and their families.

CYSHCN Mission

The Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program will collaborate with national, state, and community-based partners to link children to appropriate services, close service gaps, reduce duplication and develop policies to better serve families.