Parent Peer Specialist Program
Wisconsin Family Ties Parent Peer Program links trained parent peer specialists (PPSs) with parents who, for a variety of reasons, need help and hope. Our PPSs are parents or primary caregivers of children with social, emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges. They use their experience and training to help families navigate the complex systems that serve children.
“I wish I knew about Wisconsin Family Ties when my daughter first got her IEP. Our parent peer specialist is a strong advocate. As a single parent it’s good to have someone who’s knowledgeable about IEPs and other services.”
“Our PPS was a huge support at school and helped me push for meaningful goals. She’s really gotten to know our family and totally wants to be there for us.”
“Being supported and present. Stephanie is someone who knows what is going on. It is like getting someone to add their voice [to mine]. Wisconsin Family Ties is a good program. It’s a struggle when you’re alone. With Stephanie there is someone who knows what’s going on.”
“Without Wisconsin Family Ties, I would have no support person, no one to help me advocate. I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
“I’ve been able to more [better] advocate for my son. I am a special education teacher myself, so it makes it harder to ask for more when my friends are stretched so thin. [PPS] helps with this. When things get tough, and they do from time to time, it is such a gift to have [PPS.] She is so kind and loving. She keeps our morale up for our family.”
“She’s a huge support at school. I wasn’t aware of several things she brought up. She’s very strong with evaluations and getting us what we need. She helped me push for meaningful goals. She has really gotten to know our family and connected with us on a personal level. She totally wants to be there.”
“As a single parent it’s good to have someone who’s knowledgeable about IEPs and other services. Sandy’s been a pretty strong advocate. She does a great job. I wish I would have known about WFT when my daughter was younger, when she first got her IEP.”
“She gave us confidence as parents and taught us how to be advocates for ourselves and our son. She gave us emotional support and told us that we were good parents. She educated us about the IEP. She offered us hope that we could do it. They were a lifeline. We really felt like someone understood what we were saying and going through.”
Parent Peer Support Works
Percentage of parents who indicate that they are better advocates for their child since connecting with the parent peer specialist
Percentage of parents who note that they are more capable of dealing with service systems since connecting with the parent peer specialist
Percentage of parents who indicate that the peer specialist effectively advocates for the child [models behavior]
Wide Array of Services
Parent peer specialist provide comprehensive services designed to meet a family’s needs. These services are distinctly different and extend beyond those provided by other county or school-based services like parent coach, family navigator parent aide, or other forms of family support. The wide array of services provided by our Parent Peer Specialists may include:
- Supplying information so families can better understand and participate in the systems serving their children
- Helping families get their needs met
- Giving emotional support and guidance through a maze of services
- Helping families to identify strategies that they can use in their homes to reduce conflict and encourage prosocial behavior
- Helping families to identify and implement strategies to develop collaborative working relationships with the systems that serve them
- Acting as an objective liaison between families, schools, case managers and service providers
- Advocating for filling gaps in services and supports that can help a child flourish
- Ensuring that school plans are effective and appropriate
- Providing telephone support at times needed by families
- Offering hope and encouragement in challenging times
- Helping families become better advocates for their children
The Parent Peer Specialist Program supports parents raising children with emotional / behavioral challenges by fostering parent empowerment. Increased parent empowerment1 is correlated with improved child behavior and academic outcomes, enhanced child-parent relations, improved mental health treatment completion, and decreased parental stress2.
The Parent Peer Specialist program fosters empowerment through the creation of a one-to-one relationship between a parent-in-need and a trained veteran parent who understands the parent’s needs due to shared experiences. Support and information are provided; independence is fostered.
1Empowerment: “…the ongoing capacity of individuals or groups to act on their own behalf to achieve a greater measure of control over their lives and destinies” (Staples, 1990, p. 30) within the dimensions of levels and expressions (Koren, DeChillo, & Friesen, 1992).
2E.g. (Chacko et al., 2009; Kazdin & Wassell, 2000; Ruffolo, Kuhn, & Evans, 2006.)
Parent Peer Specialist Code of Ethics
The primary responsibilities of parent peer specialists are to promote the wellbeing of the families with whom they work, to promote family-driven practices that focus on strengths as part of the solution, and to ensure families and youth participate as partners in all aspects of their care. Our code of ethics serves to guide them in their roles, relationships, and professional responsibilities.
If you or someone you know can benefit from the support we provide, please know that anyone can make a referral for our services. Simply complete our Request WFT Services online form or contact our Connection Coordinator and we will make every effort to reply within two to three business days.