Regardless of ability, FSS program connects families to local resources
Connecting families to community resources over “the arc of a lifetime,” The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region (The Arc NCR) and its Family Support Services (FSS) program aims to make navigating life’s challenges easier for Harford and Cecil County families.
The program provides a support network and helps families, regardless of whether or not one of its members has a differing ability, achieve their goals through education and referrals, assistance locating funding opportunities, advocacy in obtaining and maneuvering community resources, accessing respite care services and more.
“Resources are often available to help those in need,” says Flossie Rosser, family navigator for The Arc NCR. “But the challenge is they aren’t always easy to find. Our program is centered around connecting families – regardless of age, stage in life, or ability – with tools to help them achieve brighter, more prosperous futures.”
One of the more than 600 families supported over the years are Karen Guilbault and her daughter, Faith, who came to the program in 2006. Guilbault was seeking a support network in her community where she and her daughter could network with other families, discuss their challenges and learn from one another. Through the program, they also received 1:1 case management services, helping them identify and prioritize their needs as a family.
Guilbault and Faith were devastated in 2012 when the program ceased due to funding issues. But, over the past year, new life has been breathed into it. “We were so excited when we heard FSS would be making a comeback and that families would start receiving help again,” says Guilbault.
Most recently, Rosser and her colleague, Sue Rattman, also a family navigator, proved invaluable to the Guilbault family when they sat down together to examine Faith’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). As a group, they discussed whether or not a specialized school would be most beneficial for Faith. After collectively weighing the pros and cons, the family decided the Maryland School for the Blind was the best avenue for the teen’s growth and development.
“The Arc NCR’s FSS program is an extremely valuable resource in the community,” says Guilbault. “It provides a safe and confidential space for families to learn, grow and share a wealth of knowledge with one another. I don’t know where we would be without their support.”
Outside of case management and support services, the program organizes monthly workshops led by community experts to educate families. The sessions are free, open to the public and take place at The Arc NCR’s office (4513 Philadelphia Road in Aberdeen). Upcoming workshops include:
• IEP Breakdown: A 6 part series that is a comprehensive review of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) begins Thursday, September 19 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
• Positive Identity Development: An exploration of the key elements in supporting youth and adult offspring with intellectual differences on Thursday, October 17 from 6-8:30 p.m.
“When someone calls our office, they know they’ll hang up with a resource,” says Rattman. “We take great pride in empowering Harford and Cecil County parents to have the knowledge and resources they need so their children and other loved ones can succeed.”
For more information regarding The Arc NCR’s FSS program, or if you’re interested to give a gift toward brighter futures for families, visit www.arcncr.org. To reach the FSS program directly, or RSVP for an upcoming training, email FSS@arcncr.org or call 410-836-7177.
About The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region
For sixty-six years, The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region has empowered people with differing abilities to live, work and thrive in the community by providing support services and advocacy to adults and children and their families in Harford and Cecil Counties. For more information, call 410-836-7177 or visit www.arcncr.org.