Community Resource Highlight
​​by Kim T. Roe, Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator, Community Partners Department​

Family Support Network

When my son was diagnosed with special needs, one of the first helpful connections that my family made was with Carol Cranford, Family Support Network of Southern Piedmont. We met ​parents living with challenges similar to the ones we faced. It helped us from feeling isolated and different than our other friends who had typically developing children. The connections helped me learn that knowledge is power. I was a mom on a mission. I learned that in helping others I was in turn helping myself and my family. Carol Cranford is a mentor; she is one of those moms and professionals on a mission, too.

“With Family Support, what we do is the emotional piece of connecting families with other families. There is such a roller coaster of emotions when your child receives a diagnosis,” said Cranford. “Family Support Network™ of North Carolina is made up of 11 regional Family Support Network™ ​programs across the state and the Family Support Program at the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Family Support Network™ of North Carolina is affiliated with Parent-to-Parent USA, a national agency that sets the standards of evidence based and best practice for family support programs across the United States.

While each of the regional programs may offer different activities, each provides support through 
information and referrals, parent mentoring, training for parent mentors, parent-to-parent connections, and trainings for families that have children with any type of special health care need – prematurity, developmental/intellectual disabilities, chronic illness, behavioral and mental health issues. “We provide the tools to help families become more confident in raising their child with special needs,” Cranford said.

What is Parent-to-Parent Matching?

• A parent-to-parent match pairs a trained Parent Mentor with a family seeking support.

• A Parent Mentor is someone who has “been there” and knows the ins and outs of raising a
child born premature​ly or with special needs. Parent Mentors offer practical suggestions for 
coping with day-to-day activities and concerns.

• Parent Mentors provide encouragement, emotional support and information on an informal and personal basis.

• Training offered at no cost to parents interested in volunteering to mentor other families.

Support Groups

• Sibshops:
For boys and girls grades 3-12 who have a brother or sister with special needs. Monthly 
meetings during the school year. Sibshops is funded by The Jonathan Foundation and Speedway Children’s Charities.

• NICU Parent-to-Parent:
For families who have infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Jeff Gordon
Children’s Hospital at CMC-Northeast, and parents of “graduate” infants previously in the
NICU. Weekly support meetings.

• The Mom Connection:
Moms meet monthly at different venues for support and information sharing.

• Project Baby Reach:
Supported by funding from Cabarrus Partnership for Children, Family Support Network™ provides developmental information to families of babies born at CMC-NE and one-to-
one support for families in the NICU.

​To find your local program, please go to www.fsnnc.org​.