For many parents, learning that your child has a special need or disability can be overwhelming. As the questions start piling up, many don’t know where to begin. However, if you are in Western New York, the answer is simple, contact The Parent Network of WNY.
The Parent Network of WNY was started in 1986 by a dedicated group of parents with a vision and mission to provide support to families of children with special needs.
As parents start asking the questions, “What does this diagnosis mean for our family?”, and “What services are available for my child?”, reaching out to The Parent Network, will provide you with many of the answers to those and other questions.
The Parent Network has the expertise, and is devoted to helping families and professionals make it possible for individuals with disabilities to reach their own potential and be successful. It can be a confusing time for parents and family members, and through the support of The Parent Network, parents and caregivers can gain the confidence they need to advocate for their family member.
What helps make The Parent Network unique is that most staff members are parents of individuals with special needs themselves; bringing personal understanding to the people they serve. Having been in the shoes of the families that reach out to them, they are able to connect with the families on a different level, and in some cases, offer the support medical professionals cannot. From my experiences with the Parent Network, they are true advocates for every family that comes through the doors, and continue to be the experts in support and training for families who need it.
During the year, The Parent Network offers numerous classes and workshops throughout the eight counties of Western New York. Some of the topics covered in the classes/workshops include Special Education, behavior, Autism, and what happens after high school. Their website www.parentnetworkwny.org is continually being updated with current training information. You can also join their mailing list and be sent a calendar of workshops offered.
When I spoke with Jennifer Zolnowski, Marketing Coordinator for The Parent Network, she told me, “This past year alone the organization conducted more than 225 training sessions and received more than 1100 phone calls from people seeking information and resources."
Families and providers can contact the Parent Network at (716) 332-4170 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of the additional information they can help with is finding support groups and recreation programs.
The organization has been operating for 25 years, and in that time they have been able to serve over 10,000 families and professionals throughout WNY. They are funded through grants from the US Department of Education, the Advocacy Center, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities and NY State Department of Education.
The grants they receive do not cover all the costs, and they raise additional money through fundraisers during the year (check out my events page for one coming up in January). The organization is always looking for items for basket raffles and silent auctions. Additionally, they offer sponsorship opportunities for businesses for conferences and events held throughout the year. Outside of monetary donations, they are always looking for volunteers to assist in the office or serve on their Board of Directors.
The Parent Network continues to partner with different agencies in the community and is always looking for more ways to reach out to the families they serve. If you would like to contact the organization about becoming a partner, volunteering, or offering monetary support, please call the office at (716) 332-4170.
If your child has a special need or disability you need to contact The Parent Network of WNY today! If you know of a family who has a child with special needs, please spread the word. They are ready and waiting to assist the community and be the resource needed to help our children with special needs succeed.