Innovative Program for Parents of Newborns with Disabilities

LOS ANGELES, June 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — For parents whose child has been born prematurely or with medical complications, figuring out which services the child needs and who provides these can be overwhelming.

Since 1983, Wayfinder has provided life-changing early intervention services for children with visual or multiple disabilities who are referred to its Child Development Services. Now, for the first time, Wayfinder will go into hospitals to help parents of infants born with disabilities navigate the care system.

“Through our new Family Resource Navigator program, Wayfinder staff will be by parents’ sides, discussing options and referring them to appropriate services. Connecting parents to these services is urgent because the younger children are, the better their brains can adapt to achieve optimal outcomes,” said Jay Allen, Wayfinder’s president and incoming CEO.

The program will deploy three full-time navigators to connect with families and hospital personnel in roughly 25 neonatal intensive care units at hospitals in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, as well as subacute units and high-risk infant clinics. The goal is to reach 2,000 children, ages 0-3, over two years.

Families will receive referrals to Regional Centers if their child has a disability, as well as to early intervention services so children can reduce developmental delays and improve outcomes. Navigators also will refer families to mental health programs, peer support groups and other community-based organizations. It is critical for a parent, whose infant is newly diagnosed with a disability, to have access to essential supportive services, like counseling and support groups, so that they may increase social connections and navigate overwhelming emotions. Navigators will conduct follow up visits to families’ homes to ensure their needs are being addressed.

“Wayfinder’s navigators will be critical in helping parents through a potentially traumatic, stressful and confusing time. This program will reduce barriers to services that families encounter, improve equity in access to services and increase families’ use of crucial services,” said Allen.

Three Important Reminders for Parents of Newborns with Disabilities

Wayfinder Family Services encourages parents to:

  1. Build a support system. Consider joining a parent support group. A Wayfinder navigator, your doctor or specialist can refer you to one in your area.
  2. Take care of yourself. To avoid stress and burnout, be sure to make time for yourself, and for the friendships and activities you enjoy.
  3. Take care of your relationships. Nurture your relationship by setting aside time with your partner. Don’t forget your other children, too. Schedule regular one-on-one time and keep up with their interests and activities.

About Wayfinder Family Services

Formerly known as Junior Blind, Wayfinder Family Services is the place to turn for people facing the greatest challenges. The organization provides expert, individualized support and services to children, youth, adults and families—from people with vision loss and developmental disabilities to children in need of temporary shelter, foster care and adoption.

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SOURCE Wayfinder Family Services

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