Serving Families since 1985
The Family Support Network™ (FSN) was created in 1985 by a pediatrician, Dr. Michael Sharp, and a social worker, Dot Cansler at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Medicine to help meet the needs of families with premature infants or children with, or at risk for, developmental disabilities, behavioral disorders, or chronic illness. With funding from the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities, the team developed two Parent-to-Parent programs and an outreach training program to involve medical students with families with children who have special needs.
Over time, additional Parent-to-Parent programs were established across North Carolina to serve all 100 counties. The Family Support Network™ of North Carolina became a statewide network comprised of community-based family support programs and the Family Support Network™ State Office at UNC. In 2008 the Family Support Network™ of North Carolina State Office relocated to UNC School of Social Work and expanded to become the Family Support Program. The Family Support Program (FSP) fosters innovation in systems, services, and supports so that families with children who have special needs lead the full lives that they envision. FSP services include Information and Referral, Education and Training, Model Program Development and Implementation, Consultation and Technical Assistance, Research and Program Evaluation, and Policy Development.
Currently, the Family Support Network™ of North Carolina is comprised of the FSN University Office* and 11 affiliated regional programs providing information and referral, parent-to-parent support, sibling workshops, support groups, and workshops and training for families and service providers statewide.
*The University Office of the Family Support Network™ of North Carolina is part of the Family Support Program
Launched Focus on Family and Disability seminar series as part of the UNC School of Social Work Clinical Lecture Series, providing a forum for experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives to share their research, practice, policy, and personal experience about disability and family support issues.
The Supporting Families with Children Who Have Special Needs program implemented through Family Support Network™ of North Carolina regional affiliate programs.
Began the Enhancing Lifetime Respite Care Resources across North Carolina through the Family Support Network™ of North Carolina project funded by NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), Division of Aging and Adult Services, to enhance and expand respite care across North Carolina through the Lifespan Respite Project.
Developed and implemented the PREParation for Emergencies and Recovery: Supporting Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and their Families project to address the critical need for individual preparedness for emergency situations by engaging individuals with disabilities, their families, community members, and state and national organizations to prepare for and recover from emergency situations. This project was funded by the US Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as a Project of National Significance.
Developed and implemented Strengthening Military Families with Children Who Have Developmental Disabilities-OneStop for Family Support project to establish an evidence-based model of peer support for military families with children who have developmental disabilities. This project was funded by the US Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as a Project of National Significance.
Family Support Network™ State Office relocated to School of Social Work and expands to become the Family Support Program.
Developed and implemented the Family Support to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect: The Parent-to-Parent Model to address the serious issue of child abuse and neglect among families with children who have special needs and prevent child abuse; funded by the NCDHHS, Division of Social Services.
Piloted Strengthening Families with Children Who Have Developmental Disabilities: OneStop for Family Support, a project to develop a system of family support activities to ensure the integration of resources, activities, and services for unserved and underserved families with children who have or are at risk of having developmental disabilities. This project was funded by the US Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities as a Project of National Significance.
Celebrated Family Support Network™ of North Carolina 20th Anniversary.
Collaborated with pediatricians, early intervention professionals, and parents to develop ways to increase health care providers' knowledge of early intervention, the referral process, and special needs of children through public awareness and educational activities; funded by the NCDHHS, Division of Public Health, Early Intervention Branch.
The Family Advocacy Project developed and implemented to provide advocacy training to parents and caregivers; funded by the Triangle Community Foundation.
Established collaborative relationship with the Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, the University Center of Excellence on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD).
Developed and implemented in-service training for UNC medical residents on Family Support for Families with Children who have Special Needs.
Launched training on “How to Talk with Parents of Children with Special Needs” for child care providers to enhance parent/professional collaboration.
Early Connections and North Carolina Early Intervention Mentor Program started with funding from the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.
Developed and conducted “Nurturing Our Families Together: Caring for Children with HIV” workshops for foster and adoptive families in collaboration with the NC Division of Social Services.
Began Adolescent and Young Adult Project with funds from the NC Division of Women and Children's Health, Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources.
Coordinated teleconference, SSInsights: Gathering Medical and Other Evidence sponsored by the NC Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources.
Sponsored Developing Sibling Support: Issues and Strategies, a collaborative program, with Duke Children's Miracle Network, North Carolina Children's Hospital Gift Card Project, and the National Sibling Support Project.
Coordinated North Carolina Early Intervention Conference sponsored by North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services.
Parent Involvement in Child Service Coordination Project begun with funds from the Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Maternal and Child Health. Hosted and coordinated 1994 International Parent-to-Parent Conference in Asheville, North Carolina for over 1000 parents and professionals.
Collaborated with UNC Hospitals on “A Conversation among Pediatricians, Clergy, and Parents: Caring for Children with Special Needs.”
First Foster Families Project grant obtained from the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Division of Social Services.
Applying Information Technology to the Family Support Network™ grant obtained from the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation for computer network connecting local Parent-to-Parent programs.
First Conference for Families of Children who are Medically Fragile held and funded by the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Division of Social Services.
Family Support Network™ of North Carolina - North Carolina Assistive Technology Project
Central Directory of Resources developed through a planning grant from the North Carolina Department of Human Resources, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse Services, and Department of Public Instruction.
Parent-to-Parent program development, support parent training, and resource manuals
developed with funds from the UNC School of Medicine, Division of Community Pediatrics and the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities.
The NC Division of Social Services supported a needs assessment of children who are medically fragile in North Carolina.
North Carolina legislative appropriation to the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Division of Community Pediatrics provided for ongoing Parent-to-Parent program development.