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Parent to Parent -- A National Network of Parent Support Programs
Parent to Parent programs provide emotional and informational support to parents of children who have special needs. To provide this support, trained and experienced veteran parents are carefully matched in 1-1 relationships with parents who are newly referred to the program. Because the veteran parent has shared the experience of disability in the family, the veteran parent is often able to provide a unique form of support that only another parent who has "been there" can.
The first formally organized Parent to Parent program, the Pilot Parents Program, was started in Omaha, NE by a young mother of a child with Down syndrome. She worked closely with a social worker at the Greater
Omaha Arc and a psychologist. Within a few years Parent to Parent programs began to spring up nationwide.
In the fall of 1988, the Beach Center on Families and Disability at The University of Kansas conducted a national survey of Parent to Parent programs. Results from the survey indicate that the number of Parent to Parent
programs has grown to 700 or more active programs today. In 30 states, there are not only local Parent to Parent programs, but also established state-wide Parent to Parent networks. The state-wide programs often provide training and technical assistance to the local programs in a variety of different ways, and make it possible for parents to be matched statewide when a local match isn't available.
In response to requests from parents and program directors of Parent to Parent programs for efficacy data concerning Parent to Parent, a participatory action research team of parents and researchers conducted a 3-year national study to determine the effectiveness of Parent to Parent support for referred parents. The results indicate that Parent to Parent increases parents' acceptance of their situation and their sense of being able to cope. Parent to Parent support helps parents to make progress on the need they present when they first contact a Parent to Parent program, and over 80% of the parents found Parent to Parent support to be helpful. Interviews with parents suggest that the kind of support Parent to Parent offers is unique and cannot come from any other source.
While there is no national Parent to Parent organization, Parent to Parent programs and families connect with each other at the International Parent to Parent Conference every other year. Attendance at the conferences has
grown from fewer than 100 to over 1100 parents, children and young adults with disabilities, and service providers, all of whom are closely involved in Parent to Parent programs in their home communities. Parent to Parent
conferences are international and multi-cultural in their focus, with attendees from around the world.
The Parent to Parent network is a growing national resource for families who have a child with special needs. Local community-based programs continue to emerge out of grassroots efforts; new statewide Parent to Parent programs are being developed to support the efforts of local programs; national needs are being addressed as they arise; and international interest in Parent to Parent is growing every year. The strength of Parent to Parent comes directly from the parents who dedicate themselves to its continuing success. Research shows that Parent to Parent makes a significant difference for parents who are matched with a supporting parent.
Web site for Parent to Parent - USA
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