Frontline Initiative Working with Families

A moment in their shoes


Debbie Fogg is a DSP Independent Provider and a sub contractor with the State of Ohio.

Sit back and think for a moment. Imagine the following scenario: You have to surrender your entire life over to an individual. You may know this person or it could be a total stranger. Take a minute and ask yourself these questions: How are my needs going to be met? Am I safe? Am I going to get hurt? How is this person going to take care of me? Can I trust this person? 

Now imagine those same questions when leaving your loved one. This could be a person you know, a person someone referred to you, or a complete stranger. These thoughts and feelings are only the beginning of what a parent or guardian experiences. Parents and guardians need time to adjust. Often they are the primary caregivers to their family member with a disability. Some families are lucky to have natural supports, or other people who are able to assist in the day-to-day care or provide some respite. Parents go through a process of learning to trust others and learning to let go. Allowing for others to provide support is difficult for parents and guardians because they have been doing it all their life. 

It is important for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to keep a few things in mind. Putting yourself in parents’ shoes gives you an understanding and compassion to provide the needed support. Listening to the parents or guardians can show them you are hearing their concerns and will give their loved one the best support possible. Families are a great resource and have a wealth of information about the individual you will be supporting. DSPs can learn more by talking to families, making home visits before providing support, and researching any information that will help families feel more at ease. This is a great way for DSPs to learn about the individual and provide the best support possible.