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Past FL3 Office Hours

The following are summaries of the strategies and resources shared at past FL3 Office Hours.  For more information, please contact FL3@handsandvoices.org.

Support to Siblings

A discussion of how we support siblings in our family support programming.


Facilitator: Amanda Hvass, OR Hands & Voices, and Beth Jones, NV Hands & Voices


  1. Find ways to say thank you to the sibling.
  2. Make alone/special time for the sibling.
  3. Think about the impact on the sibling when making plans for the family.
  4. Consider scheduling siblings to be out of the house for home visits/appointments for the child who is deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH).
  5. Seek out professionals for expertise in supporting siblings: therapists, genetic counselors, D/HH Teachers, social workers, etc.
  6. Consider exchanging sibling information on your own team to support your own kids.
  7. Give yourself grace. You are doing the best you can. Be honest with your kids about that.



  1. SibShops:  Provide young siblings with peer support and information in lively, recreational setting.
  2. H&V Parent Event Guide
  3. Challenges & Benefits of Having a Sibling with Special Needs - Western New York Family Magazine (wnyfamilymagazine.com)
  4. Siblings of Children with Special Needs | HealthyPlace
  5. Hands & Voices :: Communication Considerations (handsandvoices.org)
  6. Hands & Voices Parent-to-Parent Support Activity Guide - Soon to be updated and released to the public.  Watch H&V/FL3 communications for updates.

Authentic Parent Leadership in EHDI Systems

A discussion of meaningful integration of parent leadership in Early Hearing Detection and Intervention systems.


Facilitator: Deshonda Washington, GA Hands & Voices


  1. Share your story. Develop a 3-minute “elevator” speech of your experience.  Show the value in what parent leaders have to offer by telling your story which can enhance relationships between families and professionals.
  2. Make connections and collaborate.  Attend meetings that are open to the public, serve on stakeholder boards of directors and advisory boards, etc.
  3. Collaborate with your state EHDI system, Dept. of Education, and public/private early interventionists.
  4. Keep working with families and working in systems change.  By doing both you will keep grounded in parents’ needs and aware of trends.
  5. Share experiences on cultural diversity and help guide the system to respond with appropriate service delivery.
  6. Stay true to your integrity and the heart of your services for families, even when funding may have to be turned down.
  7. Remain focused on the families and the work, and don’t focus on individuals or your differences/conflicts.
  8. Find team members that complement your skills, build a diverse team, and share leadership among your team.


Support in Childcare

What are ways to help DHH children in childcare settings?


Facilitators: : Sara Kennedy, Hands & Voices HQ


  1. Collect information for childcare (centers, babysitters, after school programs which may have skills in sign language, cued speech, language development/audiology, children with disabilities) from parent groups, EI programs, and statewide searchable databases.
  2. Encourage parents to search for a welcoming location, have an open-door policy, caregivers who are open to learning skills for their child, can support child’s language development and inclusion, and pass the necessary background checks/provide a safe environment.
  3. Help parents educate the childcare provider about ADA support, tax deductions etc. through training, posters for staff, articles etc.
  4. Make sure families know they can ask for EI and Deaf/Hard of Hearing role model visits; suggest learning goals and activities (story time, listening checks, modifying environment, attention-getting, increasing visual and auditory access, listening bubble). 
  5. Suggest parents consider the use of technology such as LENA assessments to help determine where program is doing well and where it needs mentoring (time in noise, good turn taking/high language times).
  6. Assist families in helping staff create an optimal learning environment for their child.  Share Maximize Your Child’s Visual Access handout.


Extended Family

Strategies for engaging important family decision-makers other than parents.


Facilitators: : Lydia Hernandez, IL Hands & Voices


  1. As part of doing intake with a new family, ask the parents who is part of DHH child’s life?  Who provides childcare?
  2. Include extended family in family support and DHH adult to family support visits.
  3. Request permission to put extended family on mailing lists.
  4. Host event just for grandparents or invite extended family to existing events and have activities just for the DHH child and their grandparents or others (“selfie-station” to take photos or craft activity.)
  5. Include spotlights on extended family in newsletters, blogs, social media.
  6. Go to where grandparents are/sources that extended family trust:  culturally specific tv shows, newspapers, radio to provide educational information about related D/HH topics.
  7. Use the power of social media to engage extended family by having parents post pictures of their children at events and then encourage them to share social media with extended family. 
  8. Consider doing a survey of the needs of extended family members and ask families to distribute.


The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Discussion about how we ensure equity in providing family support services to underrepresented populations.


Facilitators: Mariana Barquet, IN H&V, and Rosabel Agbayani, H&V HQ


  1. Develop opportunities for diverse parents to become involved, starting small and ending in leadership.
  2. Create a foundation of trust and value for diverse lived experiences.
  3. Attend an event for an underrepresented population.
  4. Interview someone from a different group/perspective.
  5. Consider reopening a “case” for a family that was closed because there were too many barriers.
  6. Start an initiative outside your comfort zone.
  7. Volunteer to help with an event or project that is different for you.
  8. Practice cultural humility.
  9. Understand the demographics of your EHDI system, who is getting what services and where the gaps are.
  10. Develop opportunities for diverse parents to become involved, starting small and ending in leadership.
  11. Offer events created specifically for a particular population.


Literacy Tools and Events

Discussion about literacy resources, events, and programs that have been successfully used with families who have Deaf/Hard of Hearing children.


Facilitator: Candace Lindow-Davies, H&V HQ


  1. Host literacy events for families, either in-person or virtually.
  2. Send literacy resources to families in “New Parent Welcome Packets” or specifically timed intervals.
  3. Provide literacy information as families need or request.
  4. Post literacy resources on family support program website.
  5. Write grants to cover costs and secure donations of books/other related items for families.
  6. Collaborate with professionals and organizations who do literacy work, such as Deaf/HH teachers, public libraries, or literacy foundations.


Timely Enrollment to DHH Adult to Family Support

Discussion about DHH adult-to-family support services and strategies to enroll families no later than 9 months of age.


Guest: Janie Barlow, MN Hands & Voices DHH Guide Program


  1. Seek out programs with DHH adults trained to provide unbiased support to families with young DHH children.
  2. Whether running a DHH adult program or collaborating with one, important to have access to diverse lived experiences who are trained to provide unbiased information to meet the needs of diverse families.
  3. Referral sources are important including referrals from parent leaders who can help families understand the value of DHH adult connections.  Direct referrals from EHDI program are important to meet HRSA guidelines of enrollment by 9 months of age.
  4. Consider scripts to help parent leaders (and others) establish a meeting with families early in their journey.
  5. Build relationships with other EHDI stakeholders and organizations to help with referrals.
  6. Train the DHH adults to follow the lead of the families to address their needs and concerns at the time.
  7. Vary the opportunities to meet DHH adults including at events, group, one-on-one (virtual and in person).
  8. Continually market DHH adult services via multiple channels (social media, conferences, articles, etc.)
  9. Evaluate your system’s ability to refer families to DHH adult support for continued improvement.


Developing a Communications Plan

Learn about tools and templates for creating a coordinated plan to effectively deliver information to your audiences.


Guest: Teresa Banda, TX Hands & Voices


  1. Build a team of individuals who can help run your communications
  2. Organize the communications platforms you are using right now
  3. Review your communications platforms for ones you are not using to consider expanding
  4. Analyze who your audiences are – who are you reaching, who are you not reaching
  5. Create content – some for general audiences and some may be uniquely for specific audiences
  6. Schedule the timing of your content so to reach your audiences when they are most active and remember to post consistently and frequently to keep your audience engaged and your messaging on their feed
  7. Use analytical tools to see your impact and adjust accordingly
  8. Create a process for gathering and disseminating content and write it down so its sustainable and clear


  1. H&V HQ “At-A-Glance” Timing of Information Dissemination
  2. H&V HQ Communications Plan Worksheet (available by request)
  3. H&V HQ Communications Plan Template (available by request)
  4. Tech Soup for classes
  5. Canva for creating content/images
  6. Zoho Social for scheduling

Building Relationships on the State/Territory Level

What are successful ideas for forging strong partnerships between family support programs and community stakeholders?


Guest: Teri Urban, VA Hands & Voices


  1. Ask to meet with potential partners or stakeholders
  2. Serve on committees
  3. Be an exhibitor at events for families and professionals
  4. Do presentations at conferences and workshops
  5. Invite stakeholders to attend your events
  6. Offer to collaborate on events/workshops/seminars/webinars
  7. Explore survey results/Needs Assessments for potential topics/partnership opportunities
  8. Share your data – how many families served, your reach with social media/email lists
  9. Create products or services that people need/want – make your program valuable to others
  10. Be dependable, unbiased, consistent, professional
  11. Emphasize your parent perspective and diversity of parent leaders and reach
  12. Maintain a strong board/advisory council etc. who can back you up or bring in new stakeholders
  13. Don’t be afraid to seek financial support, and keep asking
  14. Don’t give up, keep doing quality work, prioritize relationships, and recognize when new representation/leadership might be the key to rebuild relationships


Timely Enrollment to Family Support Services

Share strategies for increasing family enrollment in family-to-family support services no later than 6 months of age.

Carrie Balian, IL Hands & Voices, and Gabrielle Bires, IL EHDI


  1. Establish the family based organization as a contractor and therefore an extension of EHDI Program – Doing Business As…(DBA)
  2. Create a Business Associate Agreement/Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the family based organization and referral source
  3. Obtain signed Parent Consent Forms at the referral source to refer families to family based organization (See more information in “A Case for Direct Referrals to Parent-to-Parent Support Programs for Families with Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.”)


  1. IL EHDI/GYBS co-wrote an article for the Spotlight on Success column of the FL3 eNews called, “An Impact on All.
  2. FL3 created a document, “A Case for Direct Referrals to Parent-to-Parent Support Programs for Families with Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing.”), providing guidance to family support organizations, EHDI programs and other stakeholders. The document includes examples of several possible strategies to share information, tips when advocating for direct referrals, and brief descriptions of privacy laws.
  3. FL3 created a document, “Tips for Meaningful Participation by Parents and Adults who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Serving in Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Systems.” This document provides information about: assessing gaps in diversity of representation, recruitment, maximizing communication access, onboarding, meaningful participation tips, and on-going assessment of engagement.
  4. FL3 did a webinar hosted by NCHAM on the topic of “Supporting Parents on EHDI Advisory Committees and Learning Communities," showcasing the “Tips for Meaningful Participation” document above.
  5. FL3 and NCHAM conducted a National Needs Assessment in 2019. One data point was whether FBOs were provided direct referrals.
  6. Vicki Hunting from H&V/FL3 did a webinar called “Family Support: Proof is in the Data,” showcasing the discussions from Family EHDI Data Learning Community (FEHDI) where EHDI programs and FBOs had discussions about how to track/report on the HRSA Objective: “increase by 20 percent (from year one baseline), the number of families enrolled in family-to-family support services by no later than 6 months of age.”
  7. The FEHDI team created a definitions document and an example of a spreadsheet used to track family support data. This is available upon request.

Parent Leader and DHH Adult Recruitment

How do we attract and engage new parent leaders and DHH adults in our support programs? 


Guest:  Amanda Schneider, MI Hands & Voices


  1. Enlist everyone to help recruit: your team (volunteers, board, staff) and professionals (audiologists, teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing, DHH adult clubs, organizations, etc.).
  2. Find small ways for getting candidates involved and be creative with how you provide services to fit your budget.
  3. Use personal invitations.
  4. Track parent and DHH adult involvement at events, on social media, etc. and follow up with a call, email, text.
  5. Keep a running list of potential candidates.
  6. Post opportunities on your website.
  7. Target specific locations, specialties, diverse and unique perspectives and do outreach to those areas/orgs/individuals.
  8. Create a DHH adult team to build your DHH adult services/opportunities and then recruit them.
  9. Market using an emotional appeal – consider reasons why someone would be drawn to this work: self-interest (networking, building resume, education), serving parents, helping their child (finding friends, finding good programs), making a difference/influencing systems (parents or DHH adults), giving back, etc.


  1. Volunteer Recruitment: Information on why volunteer programs benefit from establishing a well-organized volunteer recruitment process to maximize impact. https://www.galaxydigital.com/blog/volunteer-recruitment/
  2. 7 Super Steps to Recruit: An article providing tips on how nonprofits can recruit volunteers. https://topnonprofits.com/7-super-steps-to-recruit-volunteers/
  3. Tips for Meaningful Participation by Parents and Adults who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing Serving in Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Systems.
    The FL3 Center created this resource specifically for recruiting and supporting parent and DHH adult leaders on advisory committees and learning communities:
  4. Fostering Family Engagement and Leadership in EHDI Systems:
    This FL3 webinar from 8-31-17 explores parent/professional partnerships and family engagement in EHDI systems with a direct focus to family leaders. 
  5. Raising Diverse Leaders: 
    This FL3 webinar discusses strategies to engage and develop leaders with diverse lived experiences.
  6. JCIH Supplement to 2007 Position Statement on Early Intervention – Goals 8 & 9:
    The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing established recommendations for early intervention for children who are deaf and hard of hearing including involvement of families in systems (goal 8) and access to other families (goal 9).

Strengths and Challenges of Providing Support to Rural and Remote Communities

Discussion of the strengths and challenges of providing parent support in rural and remote communities.


Guest:  Beth Jones, NV Hands & Voices


  1. Appoint specific parent leaders to focus on rural communities
  2. Create a communications plan to do outreach to rural areas
  3. Use town halls as listening sessions to identify needs
  4. Partner with other agencies/stakeholders to strengthen response and share responsibilities
  5. Solve rural issues with creative solutions (virtual events, expansion of “Metro events” to rural, gift cards to cover gas costs for travel to events, audiology kits, lending library)
  6. Apply for funding that helps support tele-health
  7. Train local people to do carry out services
  8. Bring in support and specialists
  9. Support rural representatives attending DHH specific conferences
  10. Encourage rural representation at stakeholder meetings and legislative initiatives
  11. Develop videos/tutorials that can be accessed via the Internet


  1. Hands & Voices ASTra Guidebook and Program Information: https://handsandvoices.org/astra/index.html
    NV Hands & Voices used this to help train rural school staff about the unique needs of DHH students.
  2. Hands & Voices Deaf Education Job Web Site: https://deafed.net
    A web site for posting open positions for deaf education staff and posting resumes of individuals looking for those positions. Especially helpful in rural communities where educators specialized in deaf education may be limited.