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Moving Beyond Family Support: Empowering Families NTAC Topical Conference Tampa, Florida April 28, 2004 This project is supported by the U.S. Department.

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Presentation on theme: "Moving Beyond Family Support: Empowering Families NTAC Topical Conference Tampa, Florida April 28, 2004 This project is supported by the U.S. Department."— Presentation transcript:

1 Moving Beyond Family Support: Empowering Families NTAC Topical Conference Tampa, Florida April 28, 2004 This project is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education. The National Technical Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults Who Are Deaf-Blind

2 OVERVIEW Explain difference between support and empowerment Explain the various roles of Family Support Personnel Increase understanding of an empowerment approach to family support Share strategies and examples for enabling and empowering families Discussion and activity to illustrate and check for understanding

3 DEFINITIONS Support – to bear the weight of, especially from below; to hold in position; prevent from falling, sinking or slipping; to keep (one’s spirits, for example) from falling during stress; lend strength to; to provide for or maintain by supplying with money or other necessities Empower – to invest with legal power, authorize; to enable or permit Enable – to supply with the means, knowledge, or opportunity to be or do something; to make feasible or possible; to give legal power, capacity or sanction; to permit

4 WHAT DOES EMPOWERMENT MEAN? “... empowerment has no agreed-upon definition... Rather, the term has been used, often loosely, to capture a family of somewhat related meanings” (Thomas and Velthouse, 1990) “Empowerment is a little bit like obscenity; you have trouble defining it, but you know it when you see it” (Rappaport, 1985)

5 WHAT DOES EMPOWERMENT MEAN? Definitions emphasize:  Mastery and control as outcomes  Processes and experiences that create or produce empowerment  Intra-personal and inter-personal behaviors that moderate and mediate mastery and control  An interactional relationship between the processes and the outcomes of empowering experiences  That empowerment efforts are guided by a certain set of ideological beliefs

6 WHY EMPOWERMENT? Parents are the experts on their children and need to know/believe this and acquire skills to let others know Support only takes you so far Don’t want to build dependency on professionals Affirming experience for families It’s what families need to be able to make it through the times/challenges ahead

7 EMPOWERMENT PHILOSOPHY The Guiding Principles of an empowering philosophy are: 1. All people have existing strengths and capabilities as well as the capacity to become more competent. 2. The failure of a person to display competence is not due to deficits within a person, but rather to the failure of social systems to provide or create opportunities for competencies to be displayed or acquired. 3. In situations where existing capabilities need to be strengthened or new competencies need to be learned, they are best learned through experiences that lead people to make self-attributions about their capabilities to influence important life events.

8 Now that we’ve talked about what empowerment is…. How do we achieve it?

9 FAMILY SUPPORT PERSONNEL ROLES Teacher/Therapist  Find ways to incorporate instruction/therapy into normal activities and daily routines  Identify child and parents’ strengths and use them to address identified needs Empathetic Listener  Utilize both active and reflective listening skills  Promote family/support personnel partnerships

10 FAMILY SUPPORT PERSONNEL ROLES Consultant  Provide information and opinions in response to the family’s request(s)  Provide knowledge and experiences so that family’s network of support can be better informed and able to support the family Resource  Act as a “natural clearinghouse” of information regarding community resources  Assure that family support personnel are knowledgeable about local/state/national resources and know how to assist families in accessing appropriate resources

11 FAMILY SUPPORT PERSONNEL ROLES Enabler  Create opportunities for the family to become skilled at obtaining resources and support  Family support personnel need to act in the role of “empowerer” not “rescuer” Mobilizer  Help families connect with others (families and/or individuals) that can provide new or alternative supports and resources  Using a “MAPPING” strategy can help bring key players together

12 FAMILY SUPPORT PERSONNEL ROLES Mediator  Promote cooperation and instill an atmosphere of collaboration  Time-limited, with the purpose of setting up positive, task-oriented and mutually reinforcing interactions between families and large systems if negative experiences have occurred Advocate  Provide families with knowledge and skills necessary to protect parent and child rights, negotiate effectively with policymakers, and create opportunities to influence the establishment of policies on behalf of children and families  Important to act in a proactive way

13 EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR EMPOWERING FAMILIES 1. Promote positive and proactive interactions with families 2. Offer help in response to family-identified needs 3. Offer help that is normative 4. Offer suggestions that provide the family with immediate success in mobilizing resources 5. Promote the use of the family’s natural support networks as principal ways of meeting needs Adapted from: “Guidelines for Family Empowerment” in Enabling and Empowering Families: Principles & Guidelines for Practice (1988) Dunst, Carl; Trivette, Carol and Deal, Angela; Brookline Books, Cambridge, MA; p 94-97.

14 EFFECTIVE STRATEGIES FOR EMPOWERING FAMILIES 6. Promote a sense of cooperation and joint responsibility for meeting family needs 7. Permit the family to decide to accept or reject help 8. Permit help to be reciprocated and offer opportunities to do so 9. Promote independence and the acquisition of skills and behaviors necessary to meet family needs 10. Promote the family members’ ability to see themselves as an active agent responsible for behavior change Adapted from: “Guidelines for Family Empowerment” in Enabling and Empowering Families: Principles & Guidelines for Practice (1988) Dunst, Carl; Trivette, Carol and Deal, Angela; Brookline Books, Cambridge, MA; p 94-97.

15 PROMOTE POSITVE AND PROACTIVE INTERACTIONS WITH FAMILIES Taking a proactive stance holds the assertion that people are already competent or have the capacity to become competent Develops a trusting relationship with families Process of empowerment can begin right away in our work with families Initiates an attitude that will go far

16 OFFER HELP IN RESPONSE TO FAMILY- IDENTIFIED NEEDS Often a difficult one for us IFSP is a “family-driven” document Families of infants and toddlers may be at a different place than services providers

17 OFFER HELP THAT IS NORMATIVE Stays in line with the family’s appraisal of the situation Benefits exceed the efforts/cost to solve the problem/need Culturally sensitive Builds on inherent strengths

18 OFFER SUGGESTIONS THAT PROVIDE THE FAMILY WITH IMMEDIATE SUCCESS IN MOBILIZING RESOURCES Assists in fostering positive partnerships Begin with an immediate need Demonstrate success Take small steps Build on positive experiences

19 PROMOTE THE USE OF THE FAMILY’S NATURAL SUPPORT NETWORKS AS PRINCIPAL WAYS OF MEETING NEEDS Uses what the family is comfortable with Family assessment is part of IFSP May need to train staff in family assessment and/or family systems theory

20 PROMOTE A SENSE OF COOPERATION AND JOINT RESPONSIBILITY FOR MEETING FAMILY NEEDS Multi-disciplinary approach is a major component of early intervention services Parents are seen as equal partners and recognized as knowing their child best Training for family empowerment can and should begin early Emphasis of team concept provides a model for family members to utilize throughout educational and life planning Helps assure that service providers are viewed as partners, rather than someone sent to “do” and “fix” everything

21 PERMIT THE FAMILY TO DECIDE TO ACCEPT OR REJECT HELP Instills family-driven concept Gives family feeling that they do have some control in their life Ultimately families do know what is best for their child/family

22 PERMIT HELP TO BE RECIPROCATED AND OFFER OPPORTUNITIES TO DO SO Allows families to show their gratitude Provides chance to do something positive for others Reinforces capabilities as parents of a child with special needs Beneficial to DB project and other families

23 PROMOTE INDEPENDENCE AND THE ACQUISITION OF SKILLS AND BEHAVIORS NECESSARY TO MEET FAMILY NEEDS Enabling experiences are opportunities (naturally occurring or created) that allow for competence to be displayed or learned A slow, but necessary process Will only lead to strong, more cable families – empowered

24 PROMOTE THE FAMILY MEMBERS’ ABILITY TO SEE THEMSELVES AS AN ACTIVE AGENTS RESPONSIBLE F0R BEHAVIOR CHANGE Reinforces partnership/team concept Provide opportunities for training for empowerment (e.g. advance preparation, de-briefing, thanking parents) Supports and encourages empowerment as locus of control shifts from service provider to family member Reinforces family attitudes of adequacy and confidence in their own abilities to effect positive change for their child A person is empowered when he or she has attributed changes in behavior to his or her own actions, in order to acquire the sense of control necessary to manage family affairs

25 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Enabling and Empowering Families: Principals and Guidelines for Practice (1988) by Carl Dunst, PhD., Carol Trivette, MA, and Angela Deal, MSW Supporting and Strengthening Families: Methods, Strategies and Practices (1994) by Carl J. Dunst, Carol M. Trivette, and Angela G. Deal

26 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Linking Family Support and Early Childhood Programs/Issues, Experiences, Opportunities by Mary Larner, PhD. Families, Professionals, and Exceptionality: Collaborating for Empowerment by Ann Turnbull and H. Rutherford Turnbull California Association of Family Empowerment Centers – Family Empowerment – The Florida Partnership for Parent Involvement – Parents Helping Parents – National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice –

27 SUMMING IT ALL UP! IFSP requirements guarantee that we look at things from a family perspective first – this is a shift from what some service providers may have been taught (or what some may believe) Building dependent relationships is harmful to families in the long run, regardless of our good intentions TA providers aren’t usually the ones who have ongoing contact with families and/or know them best – we need to establish positive collaborative relationships with the entities that do

28 REMEMBER! It is not simply a matter of whether family needs are met, but the manner in which needs are met that results in family empowerment.


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