24/7 Phone:  310-258-4063

History of the Westside Family Resource and Empowerment Center (WFREC)

Serving the Westside Regional Center catchment area since 1990, the WFREC has provided resources, information and support to individuals served by Westside Regional Center, (WRC), their birth families, families of choice and professionals in our community. We provide parent to parent support, sibling support, workshops, trainings, support groups, parenting classes and systems of care navigation with follow through to the actual connection.

In 2000, our FRC was one of the first 13 to be awarded a Family Empowerment Center grant through the California Department of Education, (CDE), allowing us to serve children 3 through 21 who were identified as qualifying for special education services. The Empowerment Center grant has allowed us to serve children who do and do not qualify for Lanterman services, thereby allowing us to expand to even more families in our community. We were selected as a CaPromise center, which gave us the ability to work with DDS, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Security, CDE and the Family Resource Center Network of California.

In 2022, we started our Community Navigator Program which will provide trainings and resources related to IHSS, MediCal, Social Security, Housing, and other related generic resources. Our staff are made up of self-advocates and bilingual, experienced parents and siblings who are ready to help whenever you need it.

Mission and Vision of WFREC

Mission: To provide information and resources that empower individuals with developmental disabilities and those who love them.

Vision: We strive for the empowerment, inclusion, and acceptance of individuals with developmental disabilities.

Meet Our Team

These are the passionate and patient people of Westside Regional and Family Empowerment Center.

Liz Spencer, Director — Liz has 31 years of experience supporting families of children with disabilities. She is currently completing her 25th year as the Director of the Family Resource and Empowerment Center. Liz is the proud parent of two wonderful adult sons. She was introduced to the field by her eldest son who was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome and Bilateral Hearing Loss. Liz credits her son, who is an exceptional and extraordinary young man, as being one of her life’s greatest teachers. She is incredibly proud to work with the center to provide guidance and support to other families within this community.

Ereida Galda, Family Support and Education Specialist— Ereida is a proud mother of 3 wonderful adults and beautiful grandkids. I started working at the WFREC in 2004. My son Johnny is diagnosed with paraplegic Cerebral Palsy along with very involved chronic medical conditions. Johnny is the reason why my heart and passion belong to this field of work. It has been very rewarding for me to be able to work in an agency where I can support families like my own. I love that I can provide outreach to our community and partner with community agencies on the importance of support and inclusion for those we serve.  

Feben Fantu, Family Empowerment Manager — Feben is currently serving as the Family Empowerment Manager at the Westside Family Resource and Empowerment Center (WFREC). Feben oversees the Family Resource Empowerment grant provided by California Department of Education. This grant allows the WFREC to assist individuals ages 3 to 22 and their families to better understand/navigate their special education rights and responsibilities. Prior to her current role, she served as Education Advocacy Specialist at the Westside Regional Center for four years.

Liza Gonzalez, Community Navigator — As Community Navigators we assist families with accessing generic resources as well as navigating Regional Center services. We provide one-on-one support and assistance with filling out necessary forms related to IHSS, Medi-Cal, Social Security, Special Education, food and housing insecurity, and other related generic resources. We understand that many applications can be intimidating and overwhelming, especially when there is a language barrier. Liza provides guidance and support to address each individuals’ specific needs. Growing up with immigrant parents who only spoke Spanish, she remembers the difficulties they had accessing resources due to the language barrier. Liza is happy to be able to help families access resources that they may not be aware of or that they would’ve never thought of applying for.

Jessica Ortega, Community Navigator — Jessica began working at the WFREC in March 2023. She is one of the community navigators whose role is to provide support related to IHSS, Medi-Cal, Social Security, Special Education, food and housing insecurity, and other related generic resources. Community Navigators also provide one-to-one support to address each individuals’ specific needs and assist with navigating services that the Regional Center provides. Working here has been a rewarding experience for Jessica as she enjoys helping and meeting families in need of our services.

Nayma Guerrero — I began to work at the FREC in August 2017, and have been here for five years now. I have two siblings: my brother has autism and ADD, and my sister has Autism, ADHD and different kinds of dyslexia. Although I am not a parent, my siblings and the challenges my parents have encountered over the years have served as a teaching tool for me to learn the ropes of how to navigate the system for someone with developmental or learning disabilities. It is because of my siblings that I was introduced to the WFREC at a very young age and was even a part of the Sibshops group (a support group for children) that we have here at the WFREC.