“My daughter was born with profound disabilities. I didn’t know anything about anything at that point. And I found early on that the people from that I learned things from, and I needed to learn a lot were other parents. And I so appreciated that resource. Whenever I learned something, I wanted to share it with others. I like the feeling I get from helping other families, but I also like sharing what I learn so that they can experience the same results that I got from those things,” says Addams about her experience as a parent of a child with a developmental disability.
Those resources can be found at Parent 2 Parent of Georgia (P2P). The statewide organization provides support, information, and training to families in Georgia who are impacted by disabilities or special healthcare needs. It is the parent training and information center for Georgia, which is funded by a federal grant that requires it to provide those services to families who have children from birth to 26.
In addition, its Family-to-Family Healthcare Center for Georgia is also funded by a federal grant related to healthcare services for children. And P2P is the central directory for Babies Can’t Wait, which is its database of 7,000 providers.
“You can call us, and a coordinator will match you with a service. Let’s say, for example, that you’re looking for a physical therapist in Statesboro. They will do a search, and they will find you a list of physical therapists there,” says Addams. “The other way that parents can use the database is by going on our website and actually do the search themselves. I think it’s a wonderful resource because many parents are thinking about these things at 10 o’clock at night, and they can go there and search themselves.”
Parent 2 Parent also has trainings, including webinars on the website. Families can go there and look for a particular topic. There are different trainings to support parents at different stages and needs. They range on everything from how to get along with an IEP team to what is a waiver or what is Medicaid.
One of the goals for Parent 2 Parent is to help parents first understand their rights and their child’s rights and then how to work with the system to get what their child needs.
“Oftentimes, parents don’t really understand what they should expect. Sometimes they expect too much and sometimes, they don’t expect enough. And we want them to know what expectation they can achieve with their child,” Addams says.
One of the projects hosted by Parent 2 Parent is called The Navigator Project. Through that project, the organization works within communities to train families and lead families into doing things within their community, to take on leadership roles in their community to advocate for their children and for others with disabilities.
“One of the things that we encourage all of our families to do is to take control of their situation. We provide them with resources and information and training, but the individual parent or the individual with the disability needs to learn how to advocate for themselves and to get the things that they need,” said Addams. “For example, I think that it’s important for children to understand their diagnosis as much as they can as early as possible and then understand the services that they might be receiving at school. I think they should attend IEP meetings once they’re in middle school and understand the process, why they’re there, and how this is supposed to help them.”
While it aims to serve parents, the organization also has several ways that it tries to reach out to youth. One is through a health transition training done in cooperation with the Department of Public Health, which it hosts a workshop-type training for young people who are preparing them to transition from pediatric to adult healthcare services.
The organization also helps to prepare the youth and their parents for the transition from high school. It provides resources on the process of transition to employment and the services that are available to them, or the lack of services that are available to [young adults], in preparing them for the job market; and then there’s college or some post-secondary education.
Equally important is that Parent 2 Parent intentionally tries to reach diverse families in the state – racially and ethnically diverse cultures.
“We have a large metro Hispanic support group. And we have a smaller but still very active East African support group. And we have bilingual staff — who speaks Spanish — and then we have another staff member who speaks Farsi. We actively seek out staff to serve families of other cultures,” said Addams.
“When I think of the work at Parent 2 Parent Georgia, I hope that [parents] come away having learned something that will help their family, and that it gives them some comfort and some feeling of control to have that information,” she adds.
For more information about Parent 2 Parent Georgia contact: https://www.p2pga.org/ or call 770-451-5484 or 1- 800-229-2038.
To learn more about Parent 2 Parent Georgia’s services, watch this video: