Minnesota has always been a leader in supporting programs to provide support, information, services, training and leadership opportunities for families of youth and children who have special health care needs.
That’s why I’m so passionate about a bill I’m authoring this year called the Parent to Parent Grant Program. The bill appropriates funding for grants to support parent-to-parent programs for families of children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and health-related educational or behavioral problems.
Most of the grant funding would go to the nonprofit Family Voices of MN for their previously established CONNECTED Program which matches families with experienced volunteer support parents who have received training to assist them with resources and support, at no cost to the families. Parents who participate in the program can be connected with another parent who has a child with similar needs or circumstances, information from special training, or simply emotional support. Personal support from another parent, who has a child with similar needs, can be helpful in coping with these challenging experiences and feelings. Additionally, parents are given assistance finding services that include healthcare, educational, financial and community living.
As a long-time advocate for children with disabilities, I know how important it is for the parents of children with developmental disabilities or health care needs to have a strong and reliable support network. Being able to reach out to other parents in similar situations can make all the difference to families who are feeling isolated and overwhelmed, and the Parent to Parent Grant Program enables those who couldn’t otherwise make these contacts with the resources and abilities to do so.
Similar legislation was introduced last biennium, but it did not receive a hearing. I am optimistic that we will see more positive results this session, and I know this bill will have a huge impact on families throughout Minnesota.