The statewide network of Families Helping Families exists as the result of passionate and empowered parent and family advocates.
In 1988 the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council sponsored a conference on “Community Integration” where both parents and professionals heard how other states were providing individual and family supports to children and adults with severe disabilities in their own homes.
At this conference the philosophy of doing “whatever it takes” to support a person with a disability in their home and community regardless of the severity of the disability began to take hold. Parents and families filled the walls with flip charts of their “dreams” about what they envisioned a perfect world would be for people with disabilities.
At the end of the conference as everyone was preparing to leave, one parent stood with the courage to ask, “What are we going to do about it?” That was the beginning of a statewide grassroots movement and a transition to home and community-based services. The Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council took the challenge and began pilot projects and gathered information to write the legislation that created Act 378 of 1989 known as the Community and Family Support Act.
With the birth of this movement, one of the first steps that the Council took was to hold forums in every region of the state to collect input from families and self-advocates so that the services they needed would be targeted to their needs. One of the services that families asked for over and over was a single place to get information and services. The Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council formed committees to address the services and supports that families said they needed. One of the committees was ‘Single Point of Entry’. While the committee looked at how that could be achieved, other groups of parents and advocates were also addressing similar issues. The State Interagency Coordinating Council was mandated by Federal Law to involved families in the planning and education process of their state initiatives and hired a parent, Debbie Brand, as their coordinators. Debbie received strong support from Ann Farber, Executive Director of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council. Under their leadership, and with funding from the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council and SICC, a project in San Jose, California called Parents Helping Parents was contacted for information and training on how to create resource centers in Louisiana. By the end of 1992 each region of the state was represented by a Families Helping Families Resource Center. The Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council provided the funding, while Project PROMPT and ChildNet provided some of the first personnel to staff the centers. Each Families Helping Families center builds its programs around the needs of its own region, but the common philosophy and dedication to supporting people with disabilities and their family members to live, work, and play in our communities is universal throughout them all.
Our mission is to support the full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities in their homes and communities by providing information and referrals, education and training, and peer to peer support to individuals with disabilities and their families.
A part of being successful is having partnership with agencies who hold the same values that we do. Throughout the years, our agency has received funding and support from: The Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council, Northeast Delta Human Services Authority, the Louisiana State Department of Education, the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, the Office of Mental Health, Project PROMPT, the Office of Community Supports, and Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund to name a few.