Reaching out to families
For many families simply getting out of the house is a major challenge, often because parents are too busy or tired from their caring responsibilities, some need transport to access even very local facilities. Professionals can play a big part in helping families access their services.
Why families might have problems accessing services
- they may not think the service is aimed at them and therefore don't think their needs will be understood or met
- some parents may not trust mainstream services because of bad experiences in the past
- parents may not want to speak to someone who is not familiar with their child's disability particularly if the condition is rare.
- others may be worried about the attitude of other parents and children using your service, particularly if the child has behaviour that challenges
- both parent and child are nervous about going into a new situation, where they don't know anyone, and they don't know about the disability
How you can attract families to your service
- workshops on topics that parents need help with e.g. sleeping, behaviour that challenges; these could be advertised through local support groups
- offer advice/drop in sessions - you can use these to offer practical and emotional support, such as help with benefits
- invite a parent support group to use your centre to host their meetings and involve parents in planning the type of services you offer
- link up with child development centres, special schools, information, advice and support services, and specialists (e.g. therapists, wheelchair services)
- organise information days - try inviting different services from across your area for parents to engage with; make it fun by offering face painting and lunch so parents can relax and socialise too.
How Contact a Family can help
We have lots of information and resources that you can share with families or direct them towards.
Resources for professionals
We've produced these guides to help professionals make their services more accessible to families with disabled children:
- Making GP practices more welcoming [PDF] - how to make your GP practice accessible to disabled children and their families
- GP practice guide - supporting disabled children and young people [PDF] - how GPs can support disabled children and their families
- Health support pack for professionals [PDF] - information for those working with families affected by a disability or health condition - from birth to pre-school.
Our parent guides are free to download or to order in print from our helpline. The following guides might be helpful to parents looking for services:
- When your child has additional needs [PDF] - an overview of the different sources of support
- Getting social care services when your child has additional needs - England [PDF] - includes information about short break services
- Money matters - a checklist when your child has additional needs [PDF] - an introduction to the financial help families might be entitled to.
For more parent guides on topics such as special education, holidays and leisure and NHS services, see our full publications list [PDF].
Contact a Family is one of the partners of SENDirect, the single port of call for families looking for services, support and activities in the local area for children with additional needs.
Sign up to What's New
What's New is our monthly e-newsletter about our work and news for families with disabled children. Although mainly aimed at parents, professionals and groups might also find it useful.