(Concepts borrowed from Copernicus Projects, Kennedy Krieger Institute: Baltimore, MD)
- Respect family values Children, regardless of the type or severity of their disabilities, belong with and do best with families. Accordingly, families should receive whatever support is necessary to care for their family members with disabilities at home. When working with families stay alert to the subtle ways in which you might expose and impose your own values on the family. Using a style that is comfortable for you and for the family you are with will help communicate the underlying truth of the fact that we are all people and must be treated as such to thrive in any relationship.
- Focus on whole family: Family support must focus on the needs of the entire family. Each family and member in it has a set of experiences from within that system. Trusting their judgments, observations, and recommendations is a needed step. The system of care should be child-centered, with the needs of the child and family dictating the type and mix of services provided. Children with special needs will receive sensitive and responsive services without regard to race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, physical disability or other characteristics.
- Flexibility: Family needs change over time and family support must be flexible and responsive to the unique needs and strengths of individual families. Personal history and perception shapes our expectations. In order to meet the needs of the families we work with we must begin with and work toward meeting their changing needs throughout our involvement.
- Integration: Families should be supported to fully integrate their family members with disabilities into education, employment and social settings within their own communities. Support to families must build on social networks and other sources of support that exist in their communities. Family support is needed throughout the life spans of family members with disabilities.
- Family expertise: Families should be recognized as experts regarding the needs of their members with disabilities. The family should be the primary decision-making unit regarding the support, services and opportunities it needs. Accordingly, families must be included in the planning and implementation of family support systems. Parents have been providing for the safety, growth, and well being of their family long before providers got involved. This means they have a track record of making positive decisions and plans.
- People with disabilities have personal needs and preferences to live, work, learn, grow, and to have relationships. People with disabilities have abilities, competencies, and aspirations, and should be supported to pursue desires and reach their fullest potential.
- Access to Services: Children with special needs shall have access to a comprehensive array of services that address the child's physical, emotional, social, and educational needs. Children with special needs shall receive individualized services, guided by an individualized service plan, in accordance with the unique needs and potentials of each child and his/her family. Children with special needs shall receive services that are clinically appropriate with the emphasis on the home, school, primary health care and other natural settings, which are the least restrictive and most normal environment.
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