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We offer parents/caregivers the opportunity to connect one-to-one with a parent/caregiver of an individual with the same or similar disability or special health care need – someone who has “been there”.

Our Parent Matching program offers parents the opportunity to be matched, based on their request, with a trained Support Parent.  Support Parentsare parents/caregivers who volunteer to help other families in situations similar to those they have faced, usually by telephone. Over 1300 parents have entered our statewide support parent network.




Support Parents

The parents who offer to speak to other families are referred to as Support Parents.

Through our parent-to-parent matching program, we offer parents and other caregivers the opportunity to connect one-to-one with a parent or other caregiver of an individual with the same or similar disability or special health care need -- someone who has "been there". Generally, parent to parent support is via telephone conversations between parents.

Support Parents are a key support to families of individuals with disabilities or special health care needs. Support Parents are the foundation of our Parent Matching Program.



Who is a Support Parent?

A Support Parent is a parent or primary caregiver of an individual with a disability or special health care needs who resides in New York State. They volunteer to help other families in situations similar to those they have faced, usually by telephone. A Support Parent is a person who wants to reduce feelings of isolation for other families of individuals with disabilities and special health care needs and allow others to benefit from their experiences.



What is the role of a Support Parent?  What do Support Parents do?

As a representative of Parent to Parent of New York State, a Support Parent provides emotional support and information to families of individuals with disabilities or other special needs. A Support Parent provides a safe listening environment and can be a wealth of information to other families. Listening is a priority.

Support Parents connect with other families, either by telephone or by e-mail, and provide a kind of understanding that no one else can provide. Support Parents participate in "active listening" and provide an opportunity for openness in a non-judgmental relationship. Support Parents DO NOT provide any form of medical advice or professional counseling.



Who can be a volunteer Support Parent?

If you are the parent or primary caregiver of an individual with developmental or intellectual disability or special health care needs and reside in New York State, you can become a Support Parent. Before supporting another parent, Support Parents must complete our training program either by attending a group training in the community, participating in a training webinar, completing our online training course, reading/viewing material distributed by mail or, when necessary, by special arrangements made with your regional coordinator.



How long do parents serve as Support Parents?

When we contact a volunteer Support Parent about providing support for another family, we first ask them if they are able to provide support at this time. A Support Parent can simply answer "No" and we will not ask any further questions. We can temporarily remove a Support Parent from our active list until they let us know they are again ready to support other parents. Likewise, we will permanently remove any Support Parent from our active files as soon as the parent requests us to do so.

We do not require volunteers to serve any particular length of time. We are a network of families of individuals with disabilities or other special needs and because of this each of us, volunteers and staff, have to attend to our family's needs first and foremost.

If you would like to become a Support Parent, please complete our Support Parent Family Information Form



Why require Support Parent Training?

1. Familiarize parents with Parent to Parent of New York State so that they feel confident in being a volunteer representative of the organization and fully understand the role and commitment of the Support Parent.

 

2. Provide time for parents to reflect on their own experiences as parents and, in group trainings, share experiences with other parents so that the newly recruited Support Parents can

  • Recognize similarities in parenting experiences even though the children have different disabilities, illnesses, or syndromes.
  • Learn about the different emotional states commonly experienced by parents of children with special needs.
  • Gain insight into what a family may be experiences even though you may not have personally experienced a particular emotional state.


3. Develop communication and listening skills to help Support Parents use and share their personal experiences in effective way.
 

  • Learn techniques to use when talking to a referral parent including guidelines for telephone contact.
  • Gain information on what may happen when you speak with a referral parent.


4. Share a solid foundation of information about available community resources.

5. Address the issue of Care for the Caregiver.



How do I become a Support Parent?

After completing our Support Parent Family Information Form, parents wishing to become a Support Parent must complete the Support Parent Training.

When parents sign up to become a Support Parent, they are asked to indicate whether they would like to complete their training in a group setting, by webinar, an online course, or by mail.