Frontline Initiative Supporting Families

Frontline Notes

Families are important to all of us. We depend on them for support, encouragement, and unwavering love. For people with disabilities, families are often the only support network that remains a constant in their life over time. Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Frontline Supervisors (FLSs) need to work closely with families in order to create the highest quality of life possible for people with disabilities. This issue of Frontline Initiative provides ideas that will help in this endeavor.

Barb Handahl helps us understand the role of families from a historical perspective in her article, A Family Celebration: Celebrating Change. She takes us back to 1968 when she started her career at the Faribault State Institution in Minnesota. Times were bleak, dark, and lonely for people with disabilities who were sent to live in the institution — away from their families. At that time DSPs were not encouraged and sometimes not allowed to have contact with families. That all changed when the institutions were closed and people with disabilities were reunited with their families. Today, the role of the DSP has changed and the partnerships they foster with families have enriched many lives.

In the article My Three Wishes, John Cox, a parent of a young daughter with disabilities, shares his wishes for in his daughter’s life. We hope this article will help you find creative ways to make these three wishes come true for the individuals you support.

Dr. Condiluci and Melissa Rennie help us understand how someone becomes a part of the community in part one of this two-part article, The Process of Cultural Shifting: Building Bridges to Community. DSPs should review this article to learn more about the important role they play in creating successful bridges between the community and the individuals they support.

The Alliance Update gives us exciting news about the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). It is officially incorporated! Now the NADSP has a stronger voice to help DSP initiatives across the country.

The article, ANCOR’s National Advocacy Campaign, tells us about exciting new legislation, the Direct Support Professionals Fairness and Security Act of 2004 (H.R. 1264). It is important for DSPs and families to become familiar with this legislation and to educate their state representatives about workforce issues affecting people with disabilities.

There is much more information in this issue of Frontline Initiative. We hope you enjoy reading and sharing it with colleagues and find hints, tips, and ideas that you can use every day as you support individuals and their family networks.