Frontline Initiative Working with Families

Frontline Notes

Welcome to our Frontline Initiative on Working with Families. Nationwide, nearly 58% of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receiving support live with a family member. Therefore, it is important for us to consider how our work in supporting individuals influences, and is influenced by, their families. As Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), we can work towards helping individuals thrive within the context of their families, providing support to both individuals and their families. 

A growing number of DSPs are working in families’ homes and in community-based settings. DSPs Debbie Fogg and Lupe Robles offer inside perspectives of what it is like to support individuals in their families’ homes. Though challenging at times, they describe their experiences as meaningful and significant to their work. Leslie Merriman reflects on what it was like to grow up with a sister with Down syndrome, and shares her important perspective as a sibling and family member. 

Being an effective professional requires working with and supporting entire families. In an overview of family systems theory, Jennifer Reinke discusses how we can use theoretical concepts to better understand the families we work with. 

Some organizations are moving towards a new model of supporting families. Executive Director of the ARC of Westchester, Ric Swierat, shares insights he has learned through talking with professionals in this work. He highlights important themes that are likely to be useful for DSPs, and explores the connection between working with families and the NADSP Code of Ethics. Verónica Guzmán, Family Support 360 Coordinator at the ARC of King County, explains a model that serves as a one-stop center for supporting entire families impacted by intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

We hope you will enjoy this issue as you learn more about providing individual support in a family context.