A parent liaison works with local Child and Family Connections offices to help families with questions. All parent liaisons have experienced raising a child with special needs.
Parent liaisons can support families in a variety of ways. We asked parent liaisons throughout Illinois to share some of the ways they reach out and help families.
- I find different ways to best support each family. Some examples include providing lists of child-friendly activities, connecting families with similar needs, informing families about events in the community, and planning playgroups.
- I explain what our program can and cannot do. I let parents, medical professionals, EI providers, and community partners know what other community resources are available.
- I help families by providing an ear to listen to their concerns and meet them where they are at along their journey.
- I help families with the transition out of early intervention and the first IEP meeting with the local school district.
- I help provide families resources to be the best advocate for their child as they move through the stages of development.
- I answer questions, offer support during challenging times, and provide resources.
- I teach special education advocacy to parents so they can feel empowered to be their child’s advocate.
- I help families feel more knowledgeable, empowered, and supported on their journeys.
- I answer a family’s questions about having a child with a disability in general and listen to how they try to navigate their life with the changes they are living.
- I provide resources on different topics such as respite, educational advocacy, and disability-related support to provide a good foundation for families as they navigate unchartered waters.
- I think one of the most valuable things I can do for parents is validate what they are going through. Often there can be frustration over various challenges, and it just gets to feel like too much. I offer a listening ear. Relating to the situation from having been through it myself can be very powerful.
Ask your service coordinator to put you in touch with the parent liaison that serves your area.
Comments from Parent Liaisons:
“I have found connecting with other parents is the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do for ourselves and our children! There is no one else who understands the highs and lows of our daily lives.” —Sharon Pike, Easter Seals Dupage
“Always check with your local school district and library for play groups and parent group/ classes. Also, park district classes or special recreation classes are a great way to meet families with similar interests.” —Aimee Pfister, Child and Family Connections No. 4, Geneva, IL
“Remember to take care of yourself, fi nd time for your partner, your other children, and your friends and family. This is not a sprint, but a marathon.” —Cara Long, Easter Seals Fox Valley Region
Originally written for the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse Newsletter: Summer 2019