In addition to the "usual" parenting problems, parents who have disabilities have to cope with additional difficulties, such as prejudice about their ability to function as parents. The public social services do not provide sufficient support to help these parents cope with the multiple problems they encounter.
In 2012, in an attempt to overcome the severe lack of assistance to parents with disabilities, the Adler Institute began implementing a pilot program in which volunteer counselors offered parents guidance, support and counseling. This program was part of a range of support services for parents with disabilities that were initiated by Israel Unlimited – a partnership of JDC-Israel, government ministries, and the Ruderman Family Foundation for the development of services for people with disabilities.
MJB’s evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of the pilot found high level of satisfaction among parent participants. They reported that they had learned new ways of coping with their children and that the program had improved their functioning as parents, particularly their ability to understand the needs of their children and to explain things to them patiently.
The evaluation also found that the program impacted on the counselors as well, by increasing their awareness of the parents' ability to cope with their disabilities, reducing their apprehensions and uneasiness about people with disabilities, and enhancing their understanding about the parents' unique difficulties.
The findings of MJB’s evaluation have been used to refine the program and to inform plans for expansion.
The study was funded with the assistance of JDC-Israel Unlimited.
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