The Developmental Disabilities Institute (MI UCEDD) in Collaboration with Easter Seals Conducted "The Family Support Navigator Academy"

March 18, 2010

The Developmental Disabilities Institute in collaboration with Easter Seals, Incorporated sponsored "The Family Support Navigator Academy" in Detroit, Michigan. Funding for the training was provided by an ADD funded grant on Family Support. The two day event held on February 19 and 20, brought together over 60 parents of children with disabilities and self advocates who want to become future Family Support Navigators.

The role of the Family Support Navigator originated from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities 360 grant funded projects of national significance. The Family Support Navigator assists individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in identifying needs for support, develop a plan of action, and obtain access to identified supports in their communities. The Navigator's priority is to educate, navigate, and teach individuals and/or families to make their own decisions and achieve self-directed goals. The Navigator is often a parent of a child with a disability who teaches parents and individuals the skills necessary to access services. The Navigator's role includes helping parents gain access to community opportunities that promote community inclusion.

Topics included in the training were:

  • Family Support Navigation Philosophy
  • Navigation versus Traditional Case Management Model
  • Effective Communication Strategies
  • Family Support Service Systems: Federal and State Resources
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Fostering Self Advocacy and Self Determination
  • Family Needs Assessment, Planning & Follow Along Supports
  • Support Strategies & Service Brokering
  • Family Support Activities
  • Action Planning

The training incorporated activities and the design of an action plan that identified goals that participants want to achieve as a result of their participation in the training. Examples of the goals on the action plan are starting a parent support group, or assisting parents in their community with family support navigation. The Developmental Disabilities Institute will provide technical assistance to all of the participants to ensure they achieve their goals within six months. After the goals on the action plan are completed the Institute will officially certify the participant as a "Family Support Navigator".
This successful event was led by Dr. Barbara LeRoy, the director of DDI and Leslie Jackson, project director of Easter Seals, Inc. The training team included Elizabeth Janks, Angela Martin, Chesley Giertz, Andrea Alvarez, and Fatimah Alismail. Several participants commented on the pertinence of the training topics, and that they really liked the training toolkit.

About the Center

The Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University is Michigan's University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. DDI provides statewide programs designed to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. We offer the following:

  • Education to individuals, professionals, paraprofessionals, parents and persons with disabilities
  • Support to communities, systems and service providers
  • Evaluation of programs and services
  • Research on disability issues
  • Information that contributes to training and application of knowledge