Would you like to support other parents that have a child with a disability or special health care need? Could you draw on your own experience to offer empathy, inspiration, and a listening ear in times of need?
Becoming a Support Parent provides a unique opportunity to encourage a parent who is walking a similar path. We’re always looking for parents who are at a place in their journey to support another parent who requests a one-to-one parent match. We have found that to be an effective Support Parent, it is helpful to be at least one year out from your child’s diagnosis.
Support Parents might mentor families navigating a new diagnosis, health care systems, surgery, mental health, behavioral issues, special education, sibling and family issues, community resources, and life transitions.
What makes a good Support Parent?
- Communication skills: non-judgmental and active listening
- Self-awareness and self-reflection; understanding your own values and beliefs
- Maturity and empathy resulting from your own adaptation process
- Listening carefully rather than making assumptions or comparisons
- Share your own hopes, resources, and practical experiences
- Maintaining confidentiality is important to assure privacy and trust for both parents
- Relate respectfully to people of different backgrounds and cultures
What is involved in becoming a Support Parent?
Fill in our online application via Survey Monkey so we can identify your best match. Once you have completed your application, you will receive an email from VFN with the Zoom registration links for upcoming training dates.
Register for one of our NEW, free virtual Support Parent trainings. In this three-hour interactive training,* you will learn about the match process, as well as active listening skills, cultural competence, resources for families, self-care, and more. You will be asked to complete a post-training evaluation and confidentiality agreement, and then you will receive a Support Parent Certificate.
* We currently offer a 3-hour training option on Saturdays, as well as a weekday evening option that is split into two 1.5 hour sessions, one week apart.
We ask that you commit to being a Support Parent for at least a year, but we also understand that family situations can change, and we will always contact you for permission before giving your information to a new Referred Parent. When you do agree to support a Referred Parent, you are committing to calling/contacting them at least 2-4 times within the first two months. We will also offer optional regular Zoom calls for Support Parents to connect and receive ongoing support.
You can 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.
Vermont Family Network has been the Vermont chapter of Parent to Parent USA for more than 30 years. We are in the process of breathing new life into our Parent Match Program, and invite you to watch this brief video interview to learn more about how this program is growing and evolving, as well as being adapted to meet the needs of families during the pandemic.
As a Support Parent you are giving an invaluable gift. “We may not have answers, but we can hold hands and give each other courage.”