Parent Workshop: An Opportunity for Empowerment, Feedback, and Community Inclusion (NY UCEDD/LEND)

By: Diana Rodriguez, LMSW

July 3, 2019

The annual parent workshop was held on Wednesday, May 29th, 2019 from 8am-3:30pm. It was put together by Diana Rodriguez, LMSW, Sarah Warnet, M.S. CCC-SLP, and Daniella Soba, OT. A total of 50 parents came and were provided with free breakfast, lunch, tote bags, supplies and folders with information for the parents to take home. At the end of the workshop we sit down with the parents to debrief on how the day went and if there are things that need improvement. This gives the families an opportunity to be part of the actual creation of the workshop.

Since 2013, the Rose F. Kennedy Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (RFK CERC) at Montefiore/ Albert Einstein College of Medicine has conducted a full-day Parent Workshop. This workshop offers a platform for parents to provide feedback, voice concerns, and act as key stakeholders in program development at CERC.

The CERC Parent Workshop is an annual event held at Montefiore Medical Center, The University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine. This workshop was established with the intention of providing support and education to parents and reducing social isolation development are discussed.

During our first year, social workers and the speech staff at CERC developed the Parent Workshop in response to the expressed needs of the families with whom they worked. The workshop is a full-day annual event consisting of a keynote speaker, lectures, and parent focus groups. Overarching topics include parent coping skills and strategies, education on diagnoses, social and skill development in children, and enhancing the family dynamic. All presentations and handouts are provided in both English and Spanish. This workshop was created with several goals in mind: 1) to empower parents to become advocates for their children, 2) to foster collaboration between clinicians and parents, 3) to reduce parental social isolation, and 4) to provide a forum for parents to voice their feedback and concerns.

Parent feedback and subsequent programmatic change is a pivotal component of the Parent Workshop. Clinical staff utilized feedback conveyed during the workshop and via post-workshop surveys to develop and improve services at CERC. For example, monthly parent informational sessions at CERC were implemented in response to parent's requests from the 2017 workshop. This direct feedback loop allows parents to not only voice their perspectives, but also to become active stakeholders in programmatic change and development at CERC.

Here are just few comments from the parents.

"I feel cheated because there are a lot of topics covered that I want to attend but cannot because they are at the same time as the others". "Why don't you do a workshop every month"? "Every year that I have come I leave with a lot of information". "I feel good that I am not alone and that other parent's feel like I do". "I was happy to meet other mother's". "I made a friend and we exchanged phone numbers".