Participants in this session should include family members and service providers. The facilitator who is a family member of a child with a disability will share the story of her/his journey into becoming a family leader. The story might describe how she or he learned about the system and services and moved into family leadership roles (e.g., as a staff member, a Family Resource Center leader, or a trainer; or as a spokesperson giving policy input at the local, state, and national levels). This is a five-minute presentation.
The following are some sample points to cover:
- It may take time to develop the skills needed to feel comfortable taking on leadership roles.
- It takes support and mentoring from service providers and other families.
- Keep offering opportunities; if a family says “no” at one point, it doesn’t mean they are not interested — it may just be an inconvenient time.
- A family’s availability to participate in leadership opportunities varies depending on what else is going on in their lives, and it varies over time.
- Offer opportunities to all families. Avoid asking one family member to represent all families on all leadership activities. Invite a variety of family members (e.g., moms, dads, grandparents, etc.) to become involved. Consider strategies for reaching out to families representing the populations you serve.
Developing Family-Service Provider Collaboration and Leadership is the same handout the participants received in Developing Family-Service Provider Collaboration. You may ask participants who attended that session to bring it, or you may want to print out new copies.