What Does It Mean to Be a Family Leader? How One Mother Has Built Her Skills to Support Her Community

May 30, 2024
Denise, a family leader in Connecticut, shares the programs and experiences she’s participated in to support other parents and connect them to the resources needed for their children.
Family photo with mother, father, teen son, and young son. Graphic also includes the following quote: I will continue to make a positive impact on my community and those who are in need of support.

Family leaders are critical co-partners in early childhood systems building. They strive to make positive changes for their family, community, and beyond. They pull from their own experiences with early childhood programs and systems – as well as the experiences of others in their community – to drive impact that is centered around family needs and perspectives. As a member of our Family Advisory Leadership Council, Denise in Connecticut helps ensure that our early childhood systems-building work reflects the perspectives and needs of families like hers. Read Denise’s story to learn about her experiences with her two children and how she has built her skills to support other parents like her.

Experiences With Early Childhood Services

My name is Denise C, and I live in Connecticut. I have two children who were both born with special needs: one is deaf and the youngest has autism and ADHD. My children both received services at an early age, from Birth to Three and other services for autism. 

One of the challenges I faced while my children were younger, at the ages 0 to 5, was having family support, and I wasn’t educated about their diagnosis. I would like to see more mentors who can help follow up with parents who have children with special needs and connect them to resources available around their community. 

family with mother, father, teen son, and young son

Being a Family Leader

My role as a family leader would be described as a parent who wants to support other parents like me who have young children who were diagnosed with any type of disorder or special need.

To be a family leader is to be able to advocate for my family and bridge the gaps between parents and resources, coming together and learning to navigate through the system so our voices and concerns can be heard.

I have been participating in different workshops and gaining knowledge on how systems and programming for families work. I have taken some trainings for advocacy, mentorship, coaching, and learning to reach resources that will benefit me for my parenting skills. 

I have participated in the Parent Leader Training Institute, Urban Alliance for Coach & Case Management Training with 10 years of experience, Community Organizing and Family Issues, Center for the Study of Social Policy’s DULCE Forum as facilitator, Hartford Health Leader Focus on Mental Health, and National Parent Leader Network as the Connecticut representative. I also serve as an ambassador for making policy and legislation changes, including as an NRC Asylum Hill community member, Center Base Advisory Board Council parent ambassador, and 2Gen Parent Advisory Board parent leader. 

The positive changes that I see from all of this is that I am able to stand confident as a parent leader and use the knowledge and resources to pour on to other parents who relate to the same struggles as I went through when I first learned about my children’s diagnosis and special needs. I will continue to make a positive impact on my community and those who are in need of support.

Sign Up

Receive the latest information from the ECDHS: Evidence to Impact Center.