Family Support

Family support services are any services or supports provided by an early intervention provider to help families as they learn about their child's delays, learn how to care for their child with a disability or how to handle having a child with a disability.

Family support services may include:

Counseling:  One family member or the entire family can meet with a qualified early intervention provider who can help family members to talk about their feelings about their child's diagnosis.  For some families there can be stresses—families may be worried about a child's future, there may be medical concerns or financial concerns.   Individual family members may want to talk to someone about how they are feeling.  The entire family may want to talk to a counselor as they make big decisions or during particularly stressful times.  Families have told us that counseling can be essential to helping them get through the tough times.

Social Work:  Social workers can help with counseling; they can also help families with some of the nuts and bolts of raising a child with a disability.  A social worker can help a family to identify other financial supports, other programs that can help the family beyond early intervention or programs to help cover additional medical costs. 

Family Training:  Family training can be about specific services.  For example, if your child will be using an assistive technology device or service, like an augmentative communication device to help your child communicate, you may need some family training so that you understand how the device works, what to do when it isn't working, and how to help your child to get the most out of the device.  If your child receives a lot of services from many different early intervention providers or if your child receives services at a place or time when you are not available to attend the session, you may have family training sessions so that you can meet with your team.

Support Groups: At a support group you can meet with other families—either families with children enrolled in early intervention who live in your community or families with children with the same or similar disability as your own.  At a support group there is usually an early intervention provider who attends the meeting and can help answer questions or invite special guests to talk about key concerns (like toilet training, tantrums, and transition).  Some programs offer childcare or stipends—a set dollar amount to help with babysitting costs. 

Respite: Respite care is special, temporary relief care given by a "respite care worker" to a child with a disability.  Respite care may be provided in the family's home or at a center.   With respite a family caregiver can rest or relax so that they have the energy to care for their child with a disability.  Check with your service coordinator or municipality to learn how to apply for respite services.

Finding out that your child has a disability can be a time of big changes.  Know that you are not alone.   If you find that you need support your Individualized Family Service Plan Team can help you to find support services to help you a your family.