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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Support For Families of Children With Disabilities

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Family Services, Human Services

Mission:

The purpose of Support for Families is to ensure that families of children with any kind of disability or special health care need have the knowledge and support to make informed choices that enhance their children''s development and well being. Through fostering partnership among families, professionals and the community our children can flourish.

Mostof our staff members, volunteers, and board members are, themselves,family members of children with disabilities.

Results: Support for Families services impact large numbers of children and families.  Last year alone:• Family Resource Specialists provided individualized information and support to 778 families and 262 professionals, making more than 5,800 phone, e-mail or in-person contacts. • Support for Families provided 602 workshops, trainings, and clinics on a wide variety of topics based on needs expressed by families. Attendance totaled more than 3,500 parents and professionals. • 149 active volunteer Parent Mentor volunteers provided individualized assistance and outreach in English and Spanish. • More than 380 other volunteers contributed 3,400 hours of services. • 283 (unduplicated) family members and professionals attended one of the 21 Support Groups active last year. Total attendance at our family events exceeded 1,000. They include holiday ice skating, Halloween party, Access to Adventure, museum days, and movie nights. In follow-up surveys more than 90% of families consistently report that the information, education, or support they received from Support for Families helped them feel less isolated, helped them become better advocates for their child, and helped their child receive more appropriate services.

Target demographics: families who have a child with any kind of special need or who have concerns about their child; we also help professionals who work with children and families.

Direct beneficiaries per year: thousands of families and professionals throughout San Francisco. 700-800 families benefit from individual assistance each year; 3,000 families and professionals attend our workshops, trainings, and clinics.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco

Programs: a phone line, drop-in resource center, resource library, toy loan, quarterly newsletter, support groups, parent mentors, workshops and trainings, case management, short-term counseling and referral, Assistive Technology resources, and family social events. All services are free of charge. Assistance in English, Spanish, and Cantonese is available. We also offer information and educational services to professionals and actively collaborate with other organizations to help develop a more coordinated, family-friendly network of services for children and families. In a typical year more than 700 new families will receive intake consultations; thousands more receive help through support groups, workshops, our annual resource conference, the newsletter and website. We are based in San Francisco but also are part of collaborations that serve families throughout California.

Community Stories

86 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been connected to Support for Families since my daughter, who has Down syndrome, was born over 25 years ago. Even longer, actually--knowing of the existence of SFCD helped me know, even before she was born, that my family would not be alone raising her. For the first few years, it was the parent support group that helped immensely, as well as various workshops on different topics. Then I became a parent mentor and developed relationships with other families who were new to the world of raising a child who had Down syndrome. More recently, Support for Families has helped my now-adult daughter recruit students for a dance class that she teaches, by letting us set up information tables at their annual Information and Resource Conference and the annual Access to Adventure in Golden Gate Park. Both of these events offer a wealth of information to families and professionals looking for opportunities and activities for their loved ones or clients. And the workshops I mentioned earlier continue, on topics like IEP's, special needs trusts, housing, health care, etc. Support for Families is an incredible organization that I can't even imagine having lived the past 26 years without.

Comments ( 1 )

MCherry Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's wonderful to hear how Support for Families has helped your family for more than quarter of a century, and it's inspiring to know that you are now 'passing it on' as a Parent Mentor. Thank you!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This truly special organization offers such crucial assistance to families as they navigate the often overwhelming journey of caring for those they love with physical and/or intellectual challenges.
They shall always have my deepest respect and gratitude!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been able to witness the amazing work Support for Families does for the past 30 years. The lives of families are validated, supported and strengthened by their services.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Support for Families offers so many things, I've been to several workshops and found them very helpful. Particularly got good information from an IEP workshop and a special needs trust workshop. Also really like the offering of family friendly events.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I didn't know where to turn after my daughter was born with severe mental and physical disabilites. I was referred to Support for Families by a social worker at the NICU but never followed up. Support for Families followed up with ME, though! A staff member, Nina Boyle, called and invited me to attend a support grp. and offered to answer any questions I might have.

We were dealing with a lot, to put it mildly. Without Support for Families and the network of families who belong, I know my family would not have gotten through the most traumatic event of our lives to date. Thank you.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Support for Families is a wonderful organization that has provided invaluable assistance to our family over many years. Their free workshops (with free childcare) have taught us so much about the school process, IEP's, social security, transition, and other topics that are essential for parents to understand to effectively advocate for their kids with special needs. In addition, they helped us start a support group for folks with Prader=Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disability; this group has been going for over 15 years now, with Support for Families providing space, facilitation by a social worker, free & quality childcare, as well as translation services as needed by attendees. What an invaluable asset to families who face the multiple challenges of raising a child with special needs!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I recently volunteered to help staff a holiday skating party for Support For Families. I was absolutely impressed with the staff and their organization and caring way of providing such a meaningful celebration for the children and the families. Everyone who signed up to attend as well as those on the waiting list were able to participate. I was equally impressed by the volunteer staff as everyone was friendly, competent and happy to see the families participate. The importance of this organization to the children and the families was so readily apparent. I look forward to more events and also pray for continued support through the community.

1 September J.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Support for Families of Children with Disabilities does a tremendous job of empowering parents through information, advocacy, and support. Raising a child with special needs can be an overwhelming challenge and they are the touchstone that parents of all backgrounds, and professionals rely on to get information, find resources, and forge community to address struggles and celebrate successes.

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a developmental pediatrician and have referred numerous families of children with special needs to Support for Families. The organization literally has been a life saver for these parents and their children.

____702

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I supervise therapeutic recreation and inclusion for SF Recreation and Parks (and also teach it for the Recreation Parks and Tourism department at San Francisco State University). For over a decade, I have worked with staff at Support for Families, as well as parents who use their services. For the last five years, SF Rec and Park and Support for Families have collaborated to present "Access to Adventure", a huge event celebrating recreation opportunities for children with disabilities. I feel that Support for Families provides invaluable services for families of children with disabilities, and that they are the perfect complement to our therapeutic recreation and inclusion services. We would not be able to provide the services we provide without them providing their services!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I work at Aquarium of the Bay - and we have a very special relationship with Support for Families (SFF). I first because involved with SFF as we were new to doing programming for children with special needs and wanted to learn more. I met some of the SFF team - and they held our hand to navigate this process. The provided feedback on our programming and how to improved it, reviewed our staff training and have been providing training for our team members for the past 3 years, and they reviewed how our K-12 audiences reserve programs at the Aquarium. I can't imagine going through this process without them. Through this collaboration - we have happily become the site for their annual Halloween Party each October. This is one of my favorite events each year where we close down the Aquarium just for them - and the kids and their families come all dressed up and participate in fun activities. We do this free of charge - but feel that we get so much more out of the event than we put into it. Thank you SFF for being a great partner to the Aquarium!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Support for Families has literally changed my life. Here are just a few ways this nonprofit has made a difference:

1. They provide high quality FREE family friendly access events that help my family feel like we have a safe nonjudgemental place to have fun. These events give dignity and fun to my special needs family when we have experienced marginalization at other "family friendly" events for typical children.

2. They provide incredibly competent and authentically caring advocacy services for FREE. Their warm line is always there and has helped me advocate for my son countless times with the right advice about what to write in a letter, who to write the letter to, when to call an IEP, etc etc. Their community resources parents have gone with me to IEP meetings, spent countless hours on the phone with me as I struggled with issues with our school district, and looked over all my son's IEP documents for me. They helped me successfully advocate to change my son's placement from inclusion to a Special Day Class (which the school district was VERY resistant to doing). Time and time again they not only provide advocacy support, but moral/emotional support. Words cannot express how deeply significant it was for my community resource parent to calm me down when my principal called me to take my child home from school because he was completely out of control due to the stress he was having at school. It is these moments where I cannot imagine being a special needs parent and NOT having Support for Families there to be my cheerleader and advocate for me and my child.

3. Support for Families has incredible resources that are tailored to my child and his needs: whether it be their workshops which I have attended that always offer special needs childcare, or their vast library of books and media. I have found FREE resources here that I have not found anywhere else, including the internet, such as their binder of social stories.

4. Support for Families is a place that many of us special needs parents have turned to for networking to other agencies. Through their access to adventure event, I was able to network with other nonprofits such as KEEN, Acrosports, The Pomeroy Center, the Contemporary Jewish Museum Access events, and countless other agencies who serve Special Needs children. It was amazing that I was able to easily talk to the right people and ask about their services all at one single event, while my kid had tons of fun at the booths.

Board Member

Rating: 5

When my husband and I brought our son home from the hospital, I thought that his significant challenges would make my life forever sad. Having a child with delays in development is no walk in the park. I gave up working as an attorney to devote my time to helping him reach his goals. Goals are painstakingly met. It is hard to spend day after day working on simple skills like rolling over, sitting up, holding a bottle, bringing a fork to the mouth, crawling, walking, signing, etc. when weeks so often turn into months. However, when a milestone is reached, the elation that everyone feels is a high like no other. It's a huge cause for celebration in our house.

In order to help our son reach his potential, we had to navigate the world of disability and find all the relevant resources that were available. Through the help of SFCD, we were able to learn about and obtain all supports, resources and therapies available (physical, occupational, speech, vision, amongst several others). And when the time came to transition to preschool then kindergarten and so on, SFCD was highly instrumental in teaching us how to advocate for our son's educational needs, by understanding the law and our rights. I have never met a more competent and professional group of people as I have at SFCD. And I have never met such amazing parents as I have through SFCD. For this I will be forever grateful.

Our son is seven years old now. Our life together is not what I expected, and I would never pass up an opportunity to make things easier for him. But in the meantime, I thank my blessings every day for the progress our sweet little boy has made. He has tremendous motivation and continues to learn and enjoy life. Overall I have reconciled trying to optimize his development as much as possible with just enjoying him as we would any child.

Having support is crucial at all child development stages. I hope you will visit SFCD & then come back often, as we are always adding new information, activities and resources. Discover recreation and family fun at Access to Adventure. Join our bi-monthly group meetings and get connected to our online community where special needs families can meet and share information, stories, questions, concerns & support. Get connected with a parent mentor, or train to become a volunteer parent mentor as I have. Attend our educational workshops and empower yourself with knowledge on relevant topics and of your legal rights. Glance at our website for more information on many other important resources.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be involved with this great organization. The support I have received is comforting and invaluable.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my child was first diagnosed with Autism at age 2, I had no idea what to do and where to get support to understand his disability, what types of therapy he will need, what resources there are out there, or who to talk to. Someone told me about Support for Families of Children with Disabilities and not only did I find up-to-date and comprehensive resources, parent mentor programs, and emotional support, I've learned how to advocate for my son by understanding Special Education law by attending their excellent workshops and clinics. I also learned how to advocate successfully by knowing how to navigate my local school district's special education system by attending CAC meetings that are hosted by SFCD. I was able to attend workshops that taught me important strategies and skills to use with my son for improved positive behaviors and decreased maladaptive behaviors. With what I learned through SFCD, I've become a parent mentor myself and have helped other families who have children with special needs. Just a few days ago, I've joined the team as a Community Resource Parent. SFCD is truly an amazing, compassionate, knowledgeable, non-discriminating, and emotionally supportive non-profit organization that I will be eternally grateful for.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am an attorney who has assisted families with children with special needs. I have witnessed, through the eyes of parents, just how invaluable a resource SFCD is and how much they offer in terms of support and education for the community in San Francisco. I have personally witnessed the passion and drive of the people who fuel this organization.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a pediatric neurologist and I have seen so many families benefit from this organization. I initially learned about this organization shortly after moving to San Francisco, and first got involved by referring patients and then by volunteering. I am so passionate about their mission that I decided to join their board.

Support for Families provides a variety of resources, including support groups, parent-to-parent mentoring, a hotline to help guide families, and social activities for children and their families. Support is provided in multiple languages. The organization helps empower families to advocate for their children. Families often tell me that the feel more hopeful after participating in Support for Families activities. As a care provider for children with disabilities, I have learned that families have many questions and needs beyond the child's medical appointments, and I am gratified to know that I can connect my patients with this organization and know that they will get support and care. I recommend this organization to all my families.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a pediatric physical therapist, and over the last several years I have an opportunity to see first-hand how wonderful this organization is and how much they offer in terms of support and education for the community here in San Francisco who helps to care for children with special needs. They are an invaluable resource for families in so many ways. They offer workshops in several languages, social opportunities and support groups, educational materials and parent-to-parent mentorships, and have an amazing hotline (the 'warm line') to help answer questions and steer families in the right direction when questions arise. The staff, board, and volunteers are some of the most passionate and committed individuals I know.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

They are open for questions like schools, doctors, doctors, and anything related to disabled kids. Sometimes I need them and I call them everyday. They're very helpful. *This review was collected by GreatNonprofits staff and entered on behalf of the reviewer.

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

I know many families who are served by support for families, they help with so many different areas of need for families, that don’t have as many options as they should, especially in San Francisco. They really stand out.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Through the Junior League, I have had the opportunity to work closely with this organization. The staff is extremely motivated with a sincere dedication to the families and is always working to improve the quality of services offered. The families are truly grateful to have the organization as a resource and support network.