Children with Disabilities and the Return to Fully In-person Services
Jennifer Fung: Hi, everybody. Thank you all for joining us, and welcome to our first webinar in this year's inclusion webinar series. We are really excited about another great year of webinars that are focused on how program staff – how disability services coordinators in particular, but all program staff – can support the full effective participation of children with disabilities and their families. We wanted to kick off this year's series by really focuses on what we think is a really important topic and something that we know is coming up a lot as programs transition back to fully in-person services. Engaging with families of children with disabilities to support their well-being and really to support positive family outcomes.
I couldn't be more excited to present this webinar in collaboration with our wonderful partners from the National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement, or PFCE. I can't wait to introduce my co-producer, Yvette, in just a moment. This is a new resource for our inclusion series. If you've participated in any of the Teacher Time webinars, you'll recognize the viewer's guide. We thought it was such a great idea that we wanted to borrow from our friends at Teacher Time and use this viewer's guide to really help our participants take notes, reflect, and really plan for how you'll use the practices that you hear about today and carry them into your own settings. Definitely download that and use it however you feel is most helpful throughout our time together today. I think that's it for logistics.
Let's get started. I'm Jen Fung, and I am the inclusion lead for the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning, or DTL, as we call it, and I am very excited today to be joined by a special co-host, Yvette Dominguez from PFCE. Yvette, thank you for joining us, and do you want to say hi and tell everybody a little bit about yourself?
Yvette Dominguez: Sure. Hi. Good afternoon, everybody. Like Jen said, my name is Yvette Dominguez. I am a training and technical specialist with the National Center on Parent, Family, Community Engagement, and Jen and I are so excited to have this discussion today, especially on family engagement, and one thing that I would love to say is I would love to hear from all of you, so make sure that you use the Q&A section that Jen just talked about, and we would love to hear your thoughts, your comments, your questions throughout this webinar. Thank you so much for having me, and Jen, I'll turn it back to you.
Jennifer: Perfect. Thanks, Yvette. Today, we are going to talk about strategies that program staffs can use to engage and partner with families of children with disabilities and suspected delays. Just a little bit about what our webinar will look like today. First, we're going to talk about the experiences of families of children with disabilities in general and including some experiences that we know and have heard about of families of children with disabilities during the pandemic, and then relate those needs and those experiences that we know about to what we know about common needs for support of families of young children with disabilities. Then, we're going to explore strategies that program staff can use to build relationships and have effective communication with families, really with that goal of supporting family well-being and promoting positive outcomes. Then, we'll have some time for question and answers. Like Yvette said, please be sure to keep putting your thoughts and your questions into that Q&A widget.
In terms of our learning goals and outcomes for today, by the end of today's webinar, we really hope that participants will have a deeper understanding of what families of children with disabilities might experience as part of having a young child with a disability or suspected delay, and then we really hope that this understanding and learning about and hearing about common experiences can really help participants understand how they might be able to provide support and really use strategies to build relationships that support positive outcomes. And then, as I mentioned, we really hope that participants will walk away with some specific strategies that they can use to build equitable and responsive relationships and really, strategies to use to communicate effectively with families.
Let's get started about why it's so important to understand family experiences and really, how this fits in to the big picture of our work with families, which we know is foundational. It's so important to our Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Yvette, I'd love to hear from you. Why is developing this understanding of family experiences, and in particular, family experiences when families have a young child with a disability, why is this so important?
Yvette: Thanks, Jen. It's really important just because everything that we do in our personal lives and even in our professional lives – personal and professional – all stems from relationships that we build with ourselves and with others. When we create that positive relationship with families, that is the foundation of our work. As families, they all have hopes, they all have dreams, they all have goals that they want to aspire to, and that's no different for families who might have a child with a disability. We want to make sure that we support and have that positive impact with them and support them throughout this process. We can work with families to set those individual goals through their outcomes and building those strong relationships with families, and we can also support them through what you all see on your screen.
You might be familiar with this graphic, with the Head Start Parent and Family Community Engagement Framework, or PFCE Framework for short, and this is really our roadmap for everyday practices that support programs, systems, and services. And having a child with a disability can influence many of these factors of supporting them through their goals, supporting them through concerns that they may have, even just supporting them through their everyday communication. It's vital that we recognize those unique situations that families are at and meeting them where they may be so we can walk alongside them and build that mutual trust and that respect and that sense of belonging with families so we can support not only them, but also our programs and ourselves and have that mutual goals.
Jennifer: Perfect. Yeah. I mean, we know that having a child with a disability can have an impact on a variety of family factors and family outcomes, and we will discuss this in detail in just a bit, but we know that families of children with disabilities can be impacted across many of the different family outcomes that are identified in the PFCE framework, and in particular, when we think about family well-being, parent-child relationships, and family connections, those are areas where we often see families of young children with disabilities impacted and where we might focus our support.
I want to say that how a family reacts to a child's disability, to hearing or having their child identified as having a disability or a delay, is impacted by many different family characteristics, but it's very likely that having a child with a disability will really influence the support that families need to achieve positive outcomes. And we know that the first step, as you mentioned, to achieving those positive outcomes really begins with that partnership and really partnering with families to help understand their unique experiences.
Yvette: Yeah, exactly, Jen, and in focusing on those positive goal-oriented relationships, like we said, is the basis of our work, but it supports greater and positive outcomes for children and families, and to create that relationship and those positive outcomes, us as staff, us as those supporters for families, we must understand the child and family's unique situation, just like I said before, but we need to also keep that in mind within our systems, so looking at the yellow column, looking at our policies and procedures, how are we bringing this to the forefront and that we're doing things for families? Sometimes, our policies get in the way. Looking at our program impact areas, that pink column, of looking at how welcoming our environments are to build those relationships. How are we partnering with families? And so on. Even into our teaching practices, and how accessible are we?
And looking within our blue column that Jen talked about with our looking at family well-being, those positive childhood relationships, we want to make sure that within our everyday practice and conversation, that we adopt a strength-based attitude to support what families want to work on and to find those solutions together for the goals, their dreams, and that sense of belonging within not only our environments, within our home visits or classrooms, but also within our own relationships with them. We want to acknowledge that all families have strengths, that families are the most important teachers for their children, that families are partners in a critical role for family development, and that families have the expertise about their child. They are the experts, and they are their champions, and also, that families' contribution are important and valued. Jen, what do you think?
Jennifer: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with all that. There's one more quick thing that I wanted to point out before we really dive into the content. When we think about providing comprehensive services for children with disabilities and their families, it's really important to note that an important part of the coordination is amongst the team members and really discussing and determining a clear expectation about who provides what support to a child and a family, and how those different team members are going to communicate and collaborate. Because we know that there will be many people, many different service providers working with children and families, and in particular, oftentimes young children with disabilities have a lot of different services.
Families are going to be interacting with a lot of different people, and that consistent communication and that explicit discussion and decisions amongst team members is really going to result in more cohesive services for children and families and more clear and consistent messages to families. And we know that this can really be important, an important step in decreasing the stress or burden that families may feel, especially in those early days and weeks after a child is diagnosed as having a delay or disability.
Yvette: Exactly, Jen. Completely agree.
Jennifer: Alright. Perfect. OK, in addition to being a critical activity when using the PFCE Framework, partnering with families to understand their unique experiences is a recommended practice from the Division of Early Childhood. There are several different strands, areas of practice, within the DEC recommended practices, but there is a family strand in particular that focuses on providers and practitioners using practices that are family-centered, collaborative, and that really enhance the family's capacity and self-efficacy. We know that the DEC recommended practices can be used by all program staff – anyone who works with and supports young children with disabilities and their families. And there are a few practices that I just wanted to quickly highlight today that are particularly reliant on understanding family experiences in order to provide services and supports that are really individualized, that are flexible, and that are really responsive to the unique circumstances of each family.
One of those family practices is that practitioners build trusting and respectful partnerships with the family through using interactions that are sensitive and responsive to a variety of different characteristics. The second practice that is really relevant is that practitioners or staff are responsive to the family's concerns, priorities, and to their changing life circumstances. The third practice I just wanted to highlight is that staff work with the family to identify, access, and use a variety of supports, both formal and informal, and we'll talk a lot about those in just a minute, but really helping families access and use those supports in order to achieve the goals and the outcomes that the families have identified for themselves. For those who are interested in seeing the DEC recommended practices and learning more about the practices within that family's strand, we've provided a link on your resource list to those practices.
Alright. Now that we've grounded ourselves in why this is so important in helping families of young children with disabilities achieve positive outcomes, let's talk about what we know about families of children with disabilities and suspected delays and what they might experience. We're going to talk a bit about family reactions and experiences in that time, like I said, immediately following in those days and weeks and months – immediately following the identification of a disability or a delay, as families really adapt to their child's new diagnosis, and then think about connecting how these experiences and how those reactions might impact a family's needs for support. And then as I mentioned, we're also going to talk a little bit specifically about the experiences of families of young children with disabilities during the pandemic.
Before we dive in, I just want to acknowledge that while we're going to be talking about family experiences in general, based on what we often see and hear from families of children with disabilities, it's really important to recognize and remember that all families process and experience things differently, and that families' reactions and experiences and needs for support are highly individual and can be influenced by a variety of different factors, which we will talk about. But those include a family's current situation, community supports, their values and believes, and their child-rearing practices. While understanding these experiences and reactions that we'll talk about in just a moment can be helpful, it's really critical that we approach our work with families with an open mind, without assumptions, and really with that sincere desire to get to know each family on an individual level.
OK. That being said, while families' experiences will be unique, we do know that there are some common reactions, some common processes that families go through, and some common needs for support that we see families of children with disabilities experiencing and reporting on. Knowing about these experiences, we're really hopeful that this might help program staff feel better prepared to establish those positive goal-oriented relationships. When we're talking about these experiences and these reactions, as families learn about and cope with and adapt to learning that their child has a delay or a disability, it's really important to understand that this coping and adaptation process and really the building of family resilience is a process that occurs over time. It's really fluid, and families' perceptions, their questions, their needs, their resources, those change over time.
Because of the age of children who are enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs, we're often meeting families just as they're learning just as their child might have a disability or a delay, or the disability or delay might be identified once a child is already enrolled in the program. While I just acknowledged that experiences change over time, today, we're really going to focus on family experiences during a really specific time, that time immediately following the identification of a disability or a delay. It's really important for program staff to understand the impact of a recent diagnosis on a family because we know that many families report that that process – that being referred to a specialist, going through the evaluations –that that whole process is one of the most stressful times in a family's life, and this is families who have been asked to kind of look back on their experiences of having a child with a disability. And that during that time, during the evaluation period and in the time immediately after the child is diagnosed, families often experience a high level of concern, of questions, some challenges, and needs for support.
Again, while reactions to a diagnosis are very individual, even within a family, amongst different family members, we know that there are some emotional reactions that are common and that are often reported. These include what you see here on the slide – relief – oftentimes, that somebody else has validated and agreed with concerns that many families have held for a while, and that oftentimes, relief that having an answer or having that diagnosis can lead to additional services that might be beneficial for their child and family. Many families experience or report experiencing a feeling of guilt or anger, and this is really when we think about searching for explanations or meaning related to the child's diagnosis.
Some families experience a sense of grief or report that they experience a sense of grief. Oftentimes, this is related to skill regression or skill loss that a child may have experienced, and oftentimes, this is associated with worry about the future and unknown. Then that sense of lost time. For many families, this process of an evaluation and the steps needed to get to that diagnosis or that identification of a delay can take a while. Many families experience sort of this notion, a feeling of lost time that is valuable for learning and might not be recaptured, and also, along with that, express this pressure to locate and begin services.
These are some of those common reactions that we often hear about, and we know that during this time period, it can be emotional, it can be confusing, it can be stressful. We also know that in those weeks and months following the diagnosis, many families begin to kind of reappraise the diagnosis or begin to view the diagnosis from a different perspective as they move through that coping and adaptation process. One of the things that we're going to talk about today is how program staff can use strengths-based attitudes and practices that can really support that adaptation process that we know families go through.
Yvette: With that, we want to do a bit of a pulse check with all of you. On your screen in just a couple moments, you will see a thumbs up or a thumbs down. What we want to hear from you is about these emotional reactions that Jen just described, we want to know, based on your experience, what have you seen? Give us a thumbs up if you seen these emotional reactions and if you've heard this from families who've been experiencing this, or give us a thumbs down if you haven't really seen these emotional reactions of families. We're going to give you a minute and look for your responses.
Jennifer: Alright. I see lots of people participating. Out of the almost 100 people who have responded so far, nearly everybody has said, "This is what we see. These are the reactions that we see families experiencing.” We do see a few thumbs down, so maybe some folks who see something different. And like Yvette said, if these reactions, these common reactions don't feel consistent with what you've observed, let us know. Share that in the Q&A.
Yvette: Yeah, we would love to learn from you. Go ahead and share that in the Q&A, because sometimes, these emotional reactions, like Jen said, they can vary from family member to family member, and they can all be different, just like my emotional reaction can be different from Jen's. We would love to hear your perspective.
Jennifer: Alright. I see the responses slowing down. I think we'll give a few more seconds. Thanks to everybody who's participating. We'll have a couple more of these pulse checks, too, so get ready. OK. Thanks, everybody.
Alright. We talked about some common emotional reactions, and it's also important to understand some outcomes that we often see for families of children with disabilities in that time, again, immediately following or right after a child's diagnosis. And again, while we're going to be talking about what we commonly hear and some things that we often see, we're talking generally, and it's important to acknowledge again that these aren't universal outcomes. That while some families may experience negative outcomes or poor outcomes, particularly in that time immediately following the diagnosis, negative outcomes are not inevitable. But with that being said, let's take a look at some common family outcomes, or individual outcomes, that have been reported.
We know that when compared to parents of children without disabilities, parents of children with disabilities have demonstrated increased social isolation, increased levels of emotional distress, including being at higher risk for depression and anxiety. We also know that families of children with disabilities report increased stress related to the demands of parenting, such as navigating an increased number of appointments, dealing with increased unexpected expenditures, and then we also know for mothers who live in two-parent heterosexual households, they're much more likely to take on the majority of caregiving responsibilities for their child. Then we also know that at an individual level, in terms of outcomes, that families of children with disabilities are at increased risk for poor physical outcomes, including high blood pressure, ulcers, and migraine headaches. We also know – these are individual outcomes – we also know that families of children with disabilities are more likely to experience more negative family outcomes, and your viewer's guide has some more information about some common family outcomes that we see.
This information that we've discussed is just a really high level look at some foundational information, but we know again that understanding those family experiences and understanding family and individual outcomes is so critical. The more we know, the more readily we can move to effective action to partner and engage with families to support positive outcomes. We also know that it takes time to understand and absorb this foundational knowledge, so we encourage you to use the viewer's guide and the resources we've provided on the resource list to get more information and fully understand what research and what experience tells us about these experiences of young children with disabilities.
We've acknowledged this several times and in many different ways, but not all families experience some of those common negative outcomes to the same degree or at all, in some cases. And in fact, we know that family reactions and family reactions and family experiences can be quite different from one another. Like you said, Yvette, within a family, amongst different family members, and also from family to family. They can be varied in intensity what those reactions and outcomes look like, and that these can be really impacted by a variety of family characteristics and contexts. We know that there are a variety of different factors that have been found to really mediate how different families, or different family members, react, cope, and adapt to learning that their child has a disability, and these can include the level of financial strain that a family feels. The availability of child care is a big one. The accessibility of support services, which we'll talk about in a moment, and then the level of isolation that family feels, and the amount of personal time that's available for families, and then the perceptions of and satisfaction with social support that's available to families. These are different factors that can impact a family's adaptation and their resilience.
In just a moment, Yvette's going to share with us different ways that we can engage with families and support resilience and successful adaptation. Just one more note before I move on – the viewer's guide has more information about factors that have been shown to impact family resilience.
We've discussed some common family experiences during that time immediately following a child's diagnosis or having been identified as having a disability or a delay, and we know – we've talked about – these experiences have a direct impact on a family's need for support. Before we dive in to talking about what we know about common family priorities and needs for support following a child's diagnosis, let's do a quick poll. We want to hear from you what your experiences have been as your supporting families in that time following diagnosis. What do you see and what do you hear from families in terms of those needs for support? This is going to be hard to choose, but based on your experiences, where do you see the biggest area or the biggest opportunity to partner with families and provide support in the time following a child's diagnosis? Please take a moment and share with us by participating in the poll. Out of these different areas, what's the biggest need that you see, or where's the most common area that you see yourself providing support?
Yvette: And Jen, while people are looking at their poll questions and answering to those, wanted to highlight some comments that we had in the chat on our previous question on emotions. We had one from Nicole saying that she's experienced indifference from parents, and Polly says, "While grief can be common, some people I know grieve – the grief is about society not being able to see past their child's differences or how wonderful they are.” Wanted to highlight those two. I thought that they were very insightful and great comments on some of the emotions that we couldn't capture.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Yes. Thank you for highlighting those and to our participants for sharing those. Thank you. OK. I see a few more people participating in the poll. We're going to give that just a couple more seconds. Alright. Let's go ahead and look at what the results are. OK. Pretty evenly distributed, but we see referral to the local school district or intervention agency is coming out at the kind of top area of support that families have, and then second, not far behind, is the answers to questions about a child's disability or delay. Then, also information about support groups and support services, and some support for family advocacy, somebody to attend an IEP or IFSP meeting. Then we see a few people who have responded for other. Please, again, feel free to keep sharing with us in the chat. It's difficult to capture all the different areas of need for family support in a short poll, but like Yvette said, we love learning from our participants, please feel free to keep those thoughts and comments coming.
We know there wasn't a right answer to that poll question, and we didn't capture so many or represent so many different other areas for support or resources that we see families having in that time following diagnosis. Again, while these needs for support will be unique based on the family's experiences, there are some common needs and priority areas for support that we see families report and ask for when they've learned that their child has a disability or a delay. Just wanted to highlight a few of those today. One is that need for information about the child's disability, and information about the disability, answers to questions, but in particular, information that's individualized to the child and that is presented in a way or shared in a way that's accessible to families – in a format, in a language that's accessible to families so that they can really have those questions answered and access that information that will be helpful to them.
Many families experience and express the need for emotional or social support, and we know that this type of support comes in many different forms, which we often refer to as formal support or informal social support. Formal supports are information about referrals to and support accessing, which we know is important, more formal services or supports, such as mental health supports, family support groups, respite care, or other services that might be available through the program or in the community. Then, informal supports are people, like family, friends, neighbors, or other family members that are parents who may already be a part of a family's network or may be new connections that may be made and that maybe the program staff might help facilitate those new connections. We know that both types of support are important, but that satisfaction with informal supports is actually more strongly linked to positive outcomes for families.
Then we also know that many families express a new for support in terms of accessing resources. Locating resources for child care or locating instrumental resources, such as financial assistance for special equipment or medication, depending on the child's needs. Many families also express the need for support related to identifying and locating, and also, as I mentioned, accessing those services, which we know can be stressful for families, and an area where they may benefit from identifying and eliminating potential barriers to accessing those services. Then another area, which we saw several people respond to in the poll, is that support for family advocacy, which is a priority for many families. Helping families learn about their rights, helping families learn the vocabulary of a new system, whether it's an educational system or the medical system that they're working with to access those different services and supports, and also, helping families to learn and use skills that will help them collaborate and communicate with a variety of different professionals and really participate as a full and essential member of their child's team.
Again, that's a really high-level look at those common needs in areas for support, and your viewer's guide has more information on those different areas of support, and some space for you to jot down different ideas. One quick reminder, again, is that as we work with families to understand their priorities and needs and especially to provide that support, again, how important that strong coordination and that collaboration amongst team members will be so that we can assure that that support provided is clear, is consistent, and that we don't overwhelm families in our attempt to provide support.
Yvette: And just one quick note, Jen, on the advocacy piece – make sure to check out your resource list, because we do have a lot of great resources for you all, from our National Center of Parent, Family, Community Engagement, on advocacy and some resources also to engage with families on the decision-making and the goals setting with them.
Jennifer: OK, perfect. Thank you. Before we move on to talking about those strategies that program staff can use to communicate and build those positive goal-oriented relationships, just want to take a quick look at what we know from research and experience about the experiences of families with disabilities during the pandemic. As we've discussed, that family coping and adaptation and building of resilience is a process that occurs over time, but we also know that different life experiences or different events, such as transition – that's a really common event – that can influence family adaptation, influence that process, and really impact the family's needs for support. We know that the pandemic and the subsequent changes across so many different areas of life for children and families has definitely had an impact on the experiences, outcomes, and needs for all families. We know that the pandemic has created needs for all families of young children, but we also know that families of young children with disabilities have experienced disproportionately greater challenges during the pandemic, and these include higher rates of financial hardship, higher rates of emotional distress, and higher rates of healthcare disparities.
For example, we know that a higher rate of children with disabilities missed well-child visits during the pandemic. We also know that families of children with disabilities had less access to emotional and social support during the pandemic, and that children and families had less access to remote service delivery. There are links to those studies that this information comes from on your resource list. Definitely recommend checking out that study, that information, to get some more information about this. But just wanted to provide that high level look, especially, again, as programs return to fully in-person services, how important it is for program staff to partner with families to really understand how the pandemic has impacted their child and family and to really best understand their individual needs for support.
Now that we've talked about the importance of understanding the experiences and understanding outcomes and potential needs for resources and support, let's explore strategies and practices that program staff can use as they engage with families. Yvette, I can't wait to hear. Will you give us a good overview. What strategies can program staff use as they partner with families, really with that goal of promoting positive outcomes?
Yvette: Jen, it's my pleasure. I would love to. Some of the effective family engagement strategies. This is our show. Within Parent, Family, Community Engagement, we love to talk about engagement, not only with our families, but also with our community partners. Now that Jen has taken us through and acknowledged those family experiences and reinstating that why, that we know that families are resilient. We know that families can partner and promote those positive outcomes, and that we can be that guide on the side to support them throughout this process, wherever they may be. Whether they're resistant at times to accept that diagnosis or they're ready to take on the day and conquer it. We need to figure out where families are at, but family engagement is that process to build genuine relationships with families, and that's how we promote those strong parent-child relationships, like we said earlier, to promote that family well-being, and all those great outcomes for children and families.
What does that success and engagement look like? Sometimes, programs engage families, you all as staff engage families, just with everyday interactions, everyday conversations, and we form, little by little, that relationship, that trust, and that safety and mutual respect with families. We want to make sure that all those interactions that we have, little or small ones, are quality interactions, that can impact that positive long-term development for learning outcomes and family outcomes. Why is all of this important? You can say, "Yvette, why are we talking about this today?” Well, to highlight, for children, it's important because it's an ongoing, intentional, and meaningful engagement with families that they see, because they are observers of everything. They notice everything, and it supports that positive relationship between parents and children, and it supports their healthy development school readiness. For families, it's important because an effective family engagement supports that safety, that trust and encouragement, and that well-being for everybody. And for you all as staff, it's important because it gives those conversations that are important, that safety, and makes everybody comfortable. There might be sometimes some challenging conversations that we may have, some challenging issues, and with that relationship, that just makes it easier, especially when we start talking about development or behavior with families.
Kind of moving on into the characteristics of what a relationship-based practice looks like is. At the beginning of our webinar, we discussed the importance of those relationships, those strength-based attitudes that's kind of a common thread throughout our presentation today, but we do have these six steps that can guide us to promote that family engagement with families. Those six steps are reflecting on that family's perspective, valuing that family's passion. Sometimes, the perspective and that passion of the family might not be the same as our own. We do want to make sure that we value and we see that family's passion is what it is that they want to work on, because as we talked about earlier, those emotions might not be there yet, and those priorities might not be there, we want to make sure that we meet families where they're at. We want to support their confidence, and giving them that support in their advocacy skills of looking at the ID8 law, looking at acronyms, maneuvering them through sometimes the very confusing process and overwhelming process for them and connecting them with community resources.
Also, reflecting on your own perspectives. We all have thoughts, we all have ideas, and we all have opinions, and that's OK. We want to make sure that we also honor and reflect our own perspectives and check to see if it might be different from our family's, and see if we can be on the same page. Last one out of these six is to observe and describe the child's behavior. That could be sometimes challenging within looking at goals, IFSP goals, looking at that when we're referring to a diagnosis, and we want to make sure that all of that is secure for families and that all of that is addressed. For relationship-based practice, we want to make sure that you all have tools and resources for supporting this relationship-based practice, and a helpful resource that's within your resource guide is the relationship-based competencies. There's one for home visitors, there's one for teachers, and there's also one for family service staff and supervisors.
And throughout these relationship-based competencies, we can support our work in practice to support our practices within leadership and advocacy, understanding those barriers that the families might have to exercise their power in advocacy, looking at family access, and to community resources, like Jen talked about earlier, of recognizing that immediate assistance and needing that support from families. And these might be signs of possibly developmental delay or families concerned with food and security, child safety, or environmental factors. The last one that you might want to take a look at is the parent-child relationships in families as lifelong learners, and ensuring that families drive that development for their outcomes for their children and their families, including that participation with their IEPs and IFSPs. That's a great resource for you all to look at. For my disabilities managers that are out there with us, know that you can still use these. Yes, on the title, it might say "Teachers, Home Visitors, or Family Service Staff", but you can pick any one of those and look at those practices and support them with the children and families that you interact with every single day. Next slide, please.
Thanks, Jen. Last piece to this is looking at this communication strategies. This is a very important part in fostering those relationships, as we've talked about today. We want to create space for that authentic interaction with families. We want to provide that opportunity for that two-way communication for families to share their passion and their trust with us. We want to also make sure that we know what their preferred language is. What specific information do they need with their child's diagnosis and services and other resources that we can make accessible to them in the language that they feel most comfortable in? We also want to acknowledge that before these situations, all these situations that they may experience, that we don't define that circumstance, that the families define that circumstance for us, and that they name it, they call it out, and that we support them throughout the process. We also want to acknowledge the family's culture in taking that curiosity and having that patience and commitment with families and making sure that they feel comfortable in uncomfortable times.
And like I said, being that guide on the side, making sure that they understand what's going on throughout the process, and how sometimes, even our attitudes, our understanding of the culture can effect our relationships. Making sure we have that. Last one and most important one is listening to the family's story, and each family as their own personal stories, and we want to make sure that those stories are heard during an IP or IFSP, during a referral, making sure that our partners know that, and that we elevate their voices as we go through these partnerships.
With that, the other communication strategies that we wanted to go into today is actually adapted to a resource that might look familiar to you, and this is a resource called “Engaging Families Through Sensitive Conversations.” But in the past several months, we've been talking about these in just approaches to engaging families and conversations, or connected conversations. We want to make sure and leave with you in thinking of some of these pieces of before you talk to a family, during the conversation, and even after. Before the interaction, we want to make sure that we plan and prepare the meeting setting, where we're going to take this meeting. Is it in person? Is it virtual? Making sure that it's warm, be respectful, and that we take into account those attitudes, those behaviors, and making sure we have that welcoming environment.
During interaction, we want to make sure that the families understand what's going on within the situation, what it is that we're bringing to the table, and what is it that they're bringing to the table, and making sure that we fully understand their situation, what their perspective is and where they're at, physically, mentally, and everything in between. We want to make sure that we offer supports, but also, make sure that we ask if they want advice, or if they want information, because sometimes, they might not be ready before they want to take action. After our conversations, we want to make sure that we follow up with them, whether it's if we give them a resource, making sure that we go with them to that referral, to be that guide on the side, or calling them up, making sure that they feel communicated, feel followed up with, or even making that connection with our community partner and being that warm referral hand-off.
With that, I do want to make sure that you all know that you can use these in all these great strategies, not only with families, but also with your community partners, with your local LEAs and with your Part C and Part B providers. These are all great ways to enhance that communication and those relationships. With that, Jen, I think we have another pulse check.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Yeah. Before we move on and wrap up – it's almost time, I can't believe it – I'm interested to hear from our participants about what strategies you've all been using to connect and engage and communicate with families. Let's pause for a minute. Let me pull up that pulse check right now. OK. We just heard – Yvette just shared some wonderful, concrete strategies that can really be used to promote that engagement and support that authentic two-way communication. Are these strategies that you use often with families? Give us a thumbs up if the strategies that Yvette just shared have been effective in helping you engage and communicate with families, and give us a thumbs down if these aren't strategies that you use often. Again, if there are strategies that we missed, please use the Q&A widget to share those strategies that have been really effective for you in the work that you've been doing.
Watching some of these come in. Almost 150 people have responded, and we've got 160. Lots and lots of thumbs up, one thumbs down, so hoping that that participant, those couple participants who have given us a thumbs down for their experiences using these strategies will share what strategies have been effective for them. We'll give a couple more seconds, because we want to have a chance to wrap up and share a couple of exciting announcements. Perfect. Thank you to everybody who participated and gave us feedback on the strategies that you use or don't use to communicate and build those relationships with families.
Last, before we wrap up and just sign off, Yvette, can you share some specific examples of questions and opportunities for connections with our participants?
Yvette: Sure. Again, thank you so much for engaging in that second pulse check, and going on with this communication thread, at times, we want to make sure that we determine what to ask families. Sometimes, we're thinking to ourselves, "Oh, God, what should I ask in order to make sure that families feel supported?” Some questions, and two of them are on your screen, that you can ask is "How can I incorporate your children and their family's assets and strengths into the work with children and families?" or "What's important to the family now?” Other questions that you might want to consider is "What is important to the family right now?", "What are the family's expectations for their child's development or participation within our learning settings?", "What is the family's expectations of our program?", or even "What's been their experience within their own schooling or their own backgrounds?” Sometimes, that causes those feelings that we talked about earlier. Or "How are those perspectives – if your perspectives are the same of the family's perspective.” That could be a good way to open up a way of communication, or "What is it that they find challenging?”
Make sure to look at the viewer's guide for some more of those questions, and identify those priorities and opportunities for families with children with disabilities, and hopefully, this helps for you all. Jen, I'll turn it back to you.
Jennifer: Perfect. Thank you, Yvette. Those concrete, really usable strategies and those resources that you shared and that we provided on a resource list. I know that people are going to be able to really look to those to pick out those strategies that are really concrete and that they'll be able to take into practice tomorrow, soon, as we welcome children and families back to programs.
We have had so much great information to share today, so much participation from our participants in the Q&A that we don't have very much time for question and answer. The one thing I'll do is encourage folks to join us in our MyPeers communities. We have a disabilities and inclusion community, where we have lots of active participants who are asking questions related to disability services and sharing resources and information. If you had a question that we didn't get to today, please, come right over to MyPeers and ask it there. But one question that I did see come through the Q&A that I wanted to address was in referring to the family reactions and those emotional reactions following diagnosis. Somebody asked, "Do these outcomes " – not just the reactions, but also some of those individual and family outcomes – "do they tend to last over time for family members or are they more intense in the period following diagnosis?” The question also says, "before they begin various services," and I think that's really important, as well.
Again, every family's going to be really different, in terms of what that adaptation process looks like over time, but we often do see those emotional reactions, some of those more negative family outcomes, and some of those intense needs for support being more intense in those kind of days and weeks following diagnosis or identification of a delay. And that as families access services, especially, as we mentioned, services that they see as really supportive, especially those informal social supports, we see the intensity of some of those emotional reactions decrease, and we see some really lovely, positive adaptation and coping strategies, and lots of resilience built by families. Thank you for that question.
We are at time. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. Please mark your calendars for our next inclusion webinar, which will be on February 22nd, where we'll be talking about strategies to support children with disabilities who are dual language learners. Yvette, thank you again so much for being here.
Yvette: Thank you. It's been my pleasure, and thank you all for being here and being to responsive and so inquisitive. Thank you so much for everything.
Jennifer: And for all the work that you're doing for children and families.
Yvette: Yes. Exactly.
Jennifer: Yeah. Great to see everybody. Have a great afternoon.Cerrar
Muchas familias de niños con discapacidades han sentido más estrés y han necesitado apoyo adicional para adaptarse a los efectos de la pandemia en curso. A medida que los programas regresen a los servicios totalmente en persona, la participación de la familia será más importante que nunca. En este seminario web de la Serie de Inclusión, explore cómo el personal del programa, en colaboración con los proveedores de servicios, puede asociarse con las familias de niños con discapacidades para garantizar que los servicios y apoyos sean significativos y eficaces (video en inglés).
Nota: Las herramientas de evaluación, certificado y participación mencionadas en el video estaban dirigidas a los participantes del seminario web en vivo y ya no están disponibles. Para obtener información sobre los seminarios web que se transmitirán próximamente, visite la sección Próximos eventos (en inglés).