Learn to Become an Advocate for Your Child

Birch Family Services empowers and educates families by providing them with the resources they need to advocate, navigate, and access critical support services for their loved ones. We help people and families plan for the future by embracing a philosophy of partnership in which power and responsibility are shared, families are effective advocates for their children/loved ones, and individuals receiving services are supported to make informed choices.

In so doing, individuals and their families are treated as partners in planning for the future, and are encouraged and supported to direct the development of their life plan. In all of our programs, our process begins with listening to the individual and his/her family members to honor his/her vision for their life. Our strategies look to increase the person’s quality of life, relationships, and activities that build on their strengths, priorities, and values.

Creating Strategies for Self-Advocacy

We emphasize a person-centered approach in which the individual and his/her family engage in creating a plan that will result in an enhanced life for the individual. When developing services, we involve each person in a process that helps to identify what is important to and for them. This transformative model empowers the individual and the family to make choices that increase and improve their quality of life.

From the beginning of our engagement with the individual and the family, we provide pertinent information and guidance regarding resources available to them. Our trained staff provide direction for individuals and families to obtain and locate the resources that are required to accomplish their goals.

In our Education programs, we begin informing families from the time of evaluation and/or enrollment in our programs of the resources available to them through governmental entities and our own family support services.

We notify families of upcoming events in their communities, workshops, and trainings offered through Birch or other agencies, and who to contact in the New York State Education Department (NYSED), the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to obtain more information about programs that are available to their family member.

We educate self-advocates and family members about important issues affecting services and encourage them to get involved with leaders and politicians in the field. Self-advocates and families are invited to join with Birch Family Services and other provider organizations to advocate for the support of people with disabilities statewide.

You’re Never Alone

When parents and guardians are equipped with the resources needed to understand, access, and maximize the services available to their child, they become empowered to become an active member in their child’s network of support. By working with other parents and experienced staff, parents learn the tools to become fierce advocates and capable caregivers for their children in the present and future.