Supporting Families Project Offers Guidance and Resources

Family is important. Our family is our first support system and helps shape who we are as people. The role of family is unique for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and is often key in the support and care provided across a lifespan. These families face challenges in providing medical, behavioral, financial, and other daily support beyond what most families do. They have to find specialized care and programs that help their loved ones access a self-determined life and participate within their community in meaningful ways.

The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services created a national program to help support families. The National Community of Practice for Supporting Families of Individuals with I/DD program began in 2012 and came to Maryland in 2015. The goal of the program is to better assist and support families that include a member with I/DD across the lifespan. Each state team had to complete a self-assessment and develop a three-year work plan with technical assistance from the project staff.

Maryland shares the same goals and vision of the Community of Practice for Supporting Families in that it recognizes that individuals exist within a family system and that families are the core of our society, serving as a source of support for all of its members. The Supporting Families project will guide families of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across their lifespan, covering all of the stages of life. It will provide families with the opportunity to discover information, navigate the system, connect and network with others, and access day-to-day services and supports.

Chimes Maryland is proud to host the monthly dinner for Baltimore City/County Community of Practice for Supporting Families, co-facilitated by Mary Ann Kane Breschi and Tonia Ferguson, who are both parents of children with disabilities. Last month, we hosted sixteen parents and mature children. These meetings allow parents to connect with other parents who have children or adults with IDD/autism.