Supporting Families

Building a National Agenda for Supporting Families with an Individual with Disabilities

11206802_1592541147691367_7610755418637178260_o[1]What is Family Support?

Family Support is more than a program or service; it is the concept of supporting families who care for a member of their family with a disability.

It is a set of strategies directed to the family unit, but ultimately benefit the person with a disability.

Supporting the family strategies is intended to assist family members who have a key role in providing support and guidance of their family member with disabilities to address the emotional, physical and  material well-being of the entire family. They should be flexible, comprehensive, coordinated and include the following:

  • Information, Assistance and Navigation: This includes best practices within and outside of disability services, accessing and coordinating community supports, and advocacy and leadership skills.
  • Emotional Supports and Community Connections:  Connecting families to their community and connections with other families, including parents with disabilities, self-advocates and siblings, grandparents and other guardians for mutual  support.
  • Goods and Services that are specific to the daily support and care-giving role for the person with disabilities, such as planning for current and future needs, respite, crisis prevention and intervention, systems navigation, home modifications, and health/wellness management.

Wisconsin families interested in improving our systems of support can use these strategies as a frameworks for discussion. The Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities currently funds a 5 year Community of Practice initiative on Supporting Families. The Community of Practice (a learning environment of intensive exploration of a policy) will build capacity in six states to better support families and use the National Agenda’s strategies to do this.

To learn more go to

To read the National Agenda Report (Wingspread) go to Wingspread Final Report