Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities
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What is Supported Parenting?
Supportive Parenting is an approach to helping families headed by a parent(s) with cognitive challenges. It involves working long term, building on a family's strengths, in order to promote competence and sustain independence. It is based on:
- Respect for parents and the strong emotional bond between parents and their children.
- Regarding parents as a resource, not a problem.
- Support directed to the family as a whole rather than to individual members.
- Enabling parents to feel in control and experience being competent.
- Building on a family's strengths.
- Supporting families in the context of their own extended families, neighborhoods and communities.
- Engaging parents as active partners in service planning and as equals in choices and decisions affecting their family.
Who are the Families?
The Supported Parenting Project began supporting parents with intellectual disabilities in 2005 as part of an Administration on Developmental Disabilities Family Support 360 Grant. Families were referred to the project through the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP) and subsequently the Family Care Community Partnership (FCCP) across RI. The Project supported 73 families over six years. The Project supported 68 mothers and 9 fathers, with the majority of the families led by single parents. Fifty-eight (58) percent of parents were White, 18% Hispanic or Latino, 15% Black/African American, 3% American Indian/Alaskan Native, and 4% Multiracial.
The grant supporting this project ended in October, 2009. The Sherlock Center continues to support approximately 30 families despite lack of any current source of funding.
What are the Needs?
The following needs and barriers were identified by the initial group of 25 families during a needs assessment:
- Very low employment rates with Social Security and government assistance being the most common sources of income.
- The majority are families led by single mothers.
- All parents were in Special Education in school & few had graduated high school.
- Low literacy was an issue for parents, especially difficulty helping their children with homework.
- Most had no friends or people they could turn to aside from professional support providers.
- They were suspicious of "professionals."
- Most lived in subsidized housing - they or their children had frequent conflict with neighbors.
- Stress-filled life of poverty, isolation and uncertainty.
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