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The Parent to Parent Handbook

Betsy Santelli, Florene Stewart Poyadue and Jane Leora Young

The Parent to Parent Handbook
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Reviewer: Allison Martin

The advice and support of other parents who have "been there" is one of the best resources available for parents of children with special needs. By sharing experiences and empathy with other parents they can break through the isolation of raising a child with special needs and find the resources they seek in their community. The parent to parent support groups around the country are invaluable for this personal support and information disemmination. Now at last a book exists to help these groups. The Parent to Parent Handbook, Connecting Families of Children with Special Needs, is a well crafted guide for the start up and nurturing of parent to parent support groups.

The first two chapters examines the practical needs and emotional journey of parents of children with special needs, with personal examples and some time honored advice. The book concludes with a discussion on statewide programs, and a look into the future of parent support.

The heart of the book is the development and maintainance of parent to parent programs. With examples, definitive research, and advice, The Parent to Parent Handbook takes you through the nuts and bolts of organizing a parent to parent program. From finding and matching parents to funding and promoting your program, each step necessary for the long term success of your program is described in detail. In over two hundred pages, the authors discuss crucial topics such as setting up a Board, training parent facilitators, pros and cons of various funding options, how to explain your program and receive funding, planning with a committee, and program review. Useful samples of most of the documents you will need are provided. Betsy Santelli provides fascinating research on parents support groups of all sizes around the country, helping to put your goals into perspective. This is done without condescension, with the recognition that for these grass roots organizations, one size or format does not fit all and leaves plenty of room for creativity. Parents reading this book can not help but be impressed and proud of this remarkable and vital movement of support for children with special needs.

Since turnover occurs frequently in membership in these groups and many groups are in the process of expanding, The Parent to Parent Handbook can play an important role in passing on knowledge and experiences in already established support groups. Every person starting a local parent support group or hoping to improve an existing one, will find that they refer to this book over and over. Written with compassion and experience, it would be hard to find a better guide for your journey - both personal and as an organization than The Parent to Parent Handbook.

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