Working Together for Families Coordination

At the coordination stage, organizations consistently share information and resources in a way that increases their efficiency, thus reducing duplication of effort with respect to common goals. This involves some shared decision making and frequent communication (Frey et al., 2006). The strategies below illustrate examples occurring between state deaf-blind projects and parent centers that are consistent with this level.

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Become involved in each other’s activities

This refers to involvement that goes beyond mere attendance. For example:
  • Giving a presentation at a workshop, conference, or family gathering for the other project
  • Providing meeting space (real or online) to hold a family training
  • Sharing audiovisual equipment
  • Co-sponsoring groups (e.g., in South Dakota, the two projects collaborated on the development of an adult siblings group)
As part of our efforts to identify children with deaf-blindness, three to five years of age, we’ve collaborated with the parent center to raise awareness on what to expect and sources of support for children with hearing or vision loss when transitioning from early intervention to preschool. —New York

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Develop an in-depth understanding of what each project does

In order to partner with another organization, you need to have clarity about your common goals, activities, and resources (including staff members’ skill sets).

Gaining insight into the workings of each other’s projects has made us better TA providers. —New York
We have a better understanding of each other's project initiatives. This has an overall impact on families from both organizations through direct services, parent trainings, and teacher/educator professional development. —Ohio
Another factor to our success is having a true understanding of each other’s project and the services provided by the project. —Oklahoma

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Meet regularly

In a number of states, deaf-blind projects and parent centers meet at least quarterly on a formal or informal basis to make plans and share information.

Frequent, open communication allows us to proactively identify and address the needs of families and service providers. —North Carolina

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Disseminate news and materials 

There are a number of ways to disseminate materials for each other, including:
  • Link to the other project’s website from your website
  • Put their contact information on your publications
  • Disseminate their brochures and information in packets you send to parents and professionals
  • Post information about their upcoming events on your e-mail lists, website, and Facebook page

Example: The Oklahoma Parent Center director disseminates state deaf-blind project materials for the Oklahoma state deaf-blind project. This is extremely helpful for the deaf-blind project, which has just one employee and cannot attend multiple statewide meetings.

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Make referrals 

Parent centers should refer all families who have a child with combined vision and hearing loss to their state’s deaf-blind project. State deaf-blind projects should refer families in need of information about parent advocacy, the law, health care systems, and similar topics to parent centers.

When calls and or questions come to the [parent center], each of the coordinators goes through a process of taking information and providing guidance and technical assistance as needed.  For questions related to deaf-blindness, each staff member knows to contact the director of the deaf-blind project. It truly is a continuous circle of collaboration and support. —Nebraska 

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Provide staff development training 

Providing training to each project’s respective staff members can help increase awareness of their mission and services. This strengthens collaboration and, at a very practical level, helps staff members gain knowledge about when and how to refer families.

The state deaf-blind project provided inservice training for all parent center staff to give them a broader understanding of the needs of families of children with deaf-blindness. —Florida

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Share expertise

In addition to benefiting from each project’s general areas of expertise (deaf-blindness at the state deaf-blind projects and advocacy and education law at the parent centers), collaboration can also occur in areas where staff have special skills or knowledge. This includes such things as fluency in languages other than English and specific topical knowledge. 

We benefit from each other's expertise. Theresa is amazing with technology. Mary is fantastic around the law and IEPs, and I know employment. —Montana
Our collaboration helped us determine how to reach out to Spanish speaking parents and provide information using culturally and linguistically appropriate methods. —New York

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