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Vermont Family Network empowers and supports all Vermont families of children with special needs by Giving a Strong Start, Lifting Family Voices, and Advancing Inclusive Communities. We’re here to help!  

Call us toll-free at 1-800-800-4005 / (802) 876-5315 or email info@vtfn.org.

  • We’re here to listen and help with any needs or concerns you have about you or your child’s health, education, or well-being.
  • We welcome calls from service providers and professionals who support children and their families.
  • Conversations are confidential and services are free. There are no eligibility requirements or forms to fill out.
  • We are parents of children with special health needs or disabilities and understand the challenges and gifts our children offer.
  • Our team has many years of experience. We offer individualized assistance along with practical approaches and tips.
  • When you call, we will:
    • Listen to your needs
    • Ask clarifying questions to get more information about the situation and your priorities
    • Talk about how processes work
    • Point you to helpful information and resources
    • Think and brainstorm together on possible options and next steps
    • Send information we discussed in a follow-up email or by regular mail
  • We are a family organization providing peer support. We don’t tell you what to do. You decide what works best for you and your family. Our hope is that everyone gets the support they need and doesn’t feel alone!
  • Interpreters are available upon request
 

Contact Us

Call us toll-free at 1-800-800-4005 / (802) 876-5315 or email info@vtfn.org.

Monthly E-Newsletter

Sign up for our monthly E-news, which is for families and those who support them. You will find information about upcoming events, resources, and helpful tips.

Facebook Groups

You can follow us on Facebook: Vermont Family Network and Puppets in Education

Closed Facebook Group

If you’re a parent, you can join our closed Facebook group Vermont Families of Children with Special Health Care Needs. In this closed group, families of children with special health care needs, educational needs, and disabilities can engage in discussions, ask for support, and meet members of the community. This group is only for parents, family members, and people in a parenting role. This group is not for professionals or service providers. Please no advertising. 

Email Listserv Group

Join our listserv, which is a Yahoo email group. A listserv is an email list for communicating with all the people who have subscribed to the same list. The purpose of our listserv is to provide an opportunity to share information, foster connections, and support each other. Please let us know if you have any trouble joining or questions once you’re a member.

Would you like to talk with another parent? Learning that your child has a special health need or developmental disability can be isolating and frightening. You don’t need to be alone.

Learn more about our Parent Match program by watching our Parent Match Program Video (22 minutes) and reading our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Here is an example of how the program works as told from the perspective of two parents.

Talking on the phone with a parent who has “been there” can offer a source of empathy, hope, encouragement, and problem solving. We connect families of children with special needs with other families for support and information. Parents should never feel alone!

At no cost to you, we offer 1:1 parent matches in Vermont and nationally through Parent to Parent USA. Parent matches are made based on your self-identified needs such as:

• New diagnosis
• Community resources
• Medical, mental health, and behavioral issues and experiences
• Education or health care systems
• Transitions

Parents have said that this is an invaluable gift. “We may not have answers, but we can hold hands and give each other courage.” Our staff are parents of children with special health needs. We look forward to talking with you!

Printable Flyer

Want to invite Puppets in Education to your school or organization?

We travel anywhere within Vermont and beyond. We perform on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with occasional Mondays. Complete this form to get started and we’ll contact you.

Would you like to learn more about your child’s diagnosis? Does your child have medical needs not covered by your insurance? We may have funding opportunities that can help!

Conference Fund

Parents may apply for a grant to attend a conference related to their child’s diagnosis. Covered expenses may include registration, lodging, and travel costs. The maximum grant is $100 for a conference in Vermont and $200 for a conference that is out-of-state.

Flutie Fund

Families who have children birth to age 22 with an autism diagnosis may request up to $200 for needed equipment, respite, camp, therapies, emergency childcare, or to attend a conference related to their child’s diagnosis.

Funding is on a limited basis. We have distributed all of the funds available for this time period. We will let everyone know when we can begin receiving new applications.

When funding is available, there is a limit of one grant per family for each calendar year. Complete either a fillable application or a printable application and mail or email it to Jamie.Rainville@vtfn.org. Funds are made available through the generosity of the Doug Flutie Foundation.

Joe Shook Fund

Parents may apply for up to $100 to help offset a current distinct need. This fund is available through the generosity of others, donations are always welcome.

Medically Necessary Supplemental Fund

Income-eligible families of children with special health needs (birth to 21) may apply for up to $1,000 per 12 month period for their child’s unmet medically necessary needs such as equipment, medications, travel, and therapies. Printable flyer.

Support Group Fund

Parents interested in starting a new support group may apply for a $200 grant to help offset the costs of startup. We will support you in the startup, and will help spread the word.

Grant Funding Resource List

If you have a child with a special health care need or disability and are in need of financial assistance, you may be eligible for one or more of the grants on our Grant Funding Resource List.

To set up an in-person meeting, call us at 1-800-800-4005 or (802) 876-5315 or email info@vtfn.org.

  • We are happy to meet with families in person at our offices when there are more complex issues to discuss or documents to review.
  • On a limited basis, our staff may be available to attend meetings with you at school or in the community. Meeting attendance via phone can sometimes be an option.
  • If you live in Chittenden County, we can attend a Coordinated Services Planning (CSP)/Act 264) meeting or Local Interagency Team meeting with you in the role of parent representative. If you live in another part of the state, please contact the Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health to find out who the parent representative is for your area.
  • In Chittenden County, infants and toddlers (birth through age 3) with special needs and their families can receive a broad range of services through Children’s Integrated Services-Early Intervention.

Sibshops provide brothers and sisters an opportunity to:

  • Meet other brothers and sisters who “know” what it’s like to be a sibling
  • Have an opportunity to talk about, and to listen to, others’ concerns related to being a sibling of a child with special health needs, in a supportive non-judgmental environment
  • Make new friends, learn new games, do crafts, and share a snack.

Sibshops are for children and youth ages 6+. The program is open to those who are siblings of brothers and sisters who have special health needs. “Special health needs” includes anyone with a medical concern, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis; a developmental disability, such as Down Syndrome, a low IQ, or autism; or any other chronic disability or health condition. Learn more by taking a look at our Sibshop Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.

Sibshops are a collaborative effort of Vermont Family Network, the Howard Center, and the Vermont Department of Health: Children with Special Health Needs.

Learning that your child has a special health need or disability can be isolating and frightening. You don’t need to be alone. Some parents find it helpful to attend a support group. We have compiled a list of some support groups for your convenience. Our support group list also includes a list of social groups for individuals with disabilities and sources of on-line/phone support. We don’t endorse any particular group. It’s best to call before attending your first meeting.

What can you expect when you attend a parent support group?

  • Meet other parents and family members who have similar experiences
  • Share concerns and celebrate successes
  • Problem solve around current challenges
  • Share practical and helpful suggestions
  • Listen and share coping strategies

A support group facilitator said, “People don’t always need advice. Sometimes all they really need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart to understand them.”

If you are a parent and want to start a support group, we would like to help so please give us a call. We can guide you in Organizing and Maintaining a Support Group and add your group to our list.

Please keep in mind that we also offer at no cost to you, 1:1 parent matches in Vermont and nationally through Parent to Parent USA.

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