1. My child has a disability or a special health need or I think they may. How can talking with someone in Family Support be helpful?

Our helpline is staffed by Family Support Consultants who are themselves parents of children with disabilities or special health needs. We have been helping families and children for over 30 years. We will listen to any needs or concerns you have related to you or your child’s health, education, or well-being and help you to problem-solve according to your priorities. We will also help connect you to appropriate resources and services.

  1. Do I need a referral before I call you? What does it cost for your services?

No referral is necessary. All conversations are confidential and our services are free.

  1. How do I become a better advocate for my child? How can my child learn self-advocacy skills?

Better advocacy starts with learning about your rights and responsibilities as a parent of a child with disabilities or special health needs. We offer training opportunities for both parents and youth on a variety of topics.

  1. What can I do if my child is involved with bullying?

Be prepared to listen without judgment and provide your child with a safe place to work out their feelings. If a child with a disability is being bullied, federal laws require schools to investigate the issue and take steps to stop the bullying and keep your child safe. If your child with a disability is the bully, social skills training and/or behavior support plans can be part of their individualized Education Program (IEP). Be familiar with your child’s school’s policies and procedures related to bullying and harassment.

  1. I have a job that doesn’t allow me time to talk during your office hours (Monday – Friday, 9 am – 4:30 pm). Are there other times that I can talk with someone?

While we do not offer support outside of office hours, parents can make telephone appointments at a specific time with a family support consultant e.g. during your lunch or other work break time. While family consultants can be reached through email, we often cannot provide detailed written help in complicated situations. VFN hosts two closed Facebook pages: Vermont Families of Children with Disabilities or Special Health Needs and Vermont Families of Adults with Disabilities or Special Health Needs. Both are supportive places for families where you can connect with other parents who may be facing similar challenges.

  1. Can you help me with legal advice?

No. Employees are not attorneys and cannot offer legal advice. We can however, provide information about your rights and offer resources.

  1. What do you offer in the way of training and education?

We offer in-person and online trainings on a variety of topics. We also host an annual conference with networking opportunities and workshops. Our 90+ webinars are available on the VFN YouTube Channel. 

  1. What opportunities are available if I am interested in leadership opportunities and making positive change in Vermont?
  • We co-host the Vermont Leadership Series – a three-part training for families of children with disabilities.
  • Our Family Faculty program gives parents an opportunity to teach family-centered care by sharing stories and experiences with education, medical and other healthcare students.
  • We also post leadership opportunities for parents to speak at the legislature or at state/federal forums or participate on state committees/councils on our website and social media.
  1. What can I do if my child receives various services at school and from different agencies but we’re still having problems?

If your child receives services from two or more organizations, they may be eligible for an Act 264/Coordinated Services Plan (CSP) meeting. A CSP meeting brings together all the parties involved in a child’s care. Everyone gains a mutual understanding of your child’s situation and hears your family’s perspective on goals, current supports, and challenges and concerns. Everyone then works together to develop a proposed plan of supports and services.

  1. How can I connect with other families?

VFN Family Support programs include opportunities to connect though our parent-to-parent match program and support groups. We also host a closed Facebook page for families of children with disabilities or special health needs and a closed Facebook page for families of adults with disabilities or special health needs.

  1. How can I help find funding to help with expenses related to my child’s disability?

We offer a variety of different funding opportunities. We maintain information on our funding page and post periodically on our Facebook page.

  1. What do I need to know if my family is planning to move to Vermont and we have a child with a disability?

There is a lot to consider when moving to a new state. You can call and speak with a Family Support Consultant or refer to our Moving to Vermont Guide.