Welcome to Fostering Joy


A Movement to Celebrate the Magic of Raising Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing


What is “Fostering Joy”?


Fostering Joy is a family/professional effort celebrating the joy of raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH).

Fostering Joy provides support and resources for families and professionals to positively help the growth and development of a child who is D/HH. 

Loving and supportive families provide a strong base for social and emotional health and well-being.

Focusing on special moments that bring joy helps families put aside concerns and focus on their natural and loving parent-child connections.

What Does Research Say?

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“What Do Parents Say?”. 

Parents of diverse children who are deaf and hard of hearing were asked, “What about your child brings you joy?”  Here are their answers:

Fostering Joy Video - 7 minutes

Fostering Joy video - short version (Square format) - 1 minute

How Did Fostering Joy Start?

This project began when several members of our team recognized the need to impact the conversations between families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing and professionals. It is our belief that much of what caregivers experience in their conversations with professionals is focused on topics such as “delays in the child’s development,” or “identifying areas of need,” and even on “constantly thinking about communication.” Yet, there is much to be said for parents simply enjoying their babies, encouraging the establishment of strong attachment between children and their caregivers, and enriching the social connection of the child to those in their world.
First, the group examined professional tools to help families reflect on their parent-child relationship as well as their child’s social-emotional development.  We chose to focus on the SEAM (Social-Emotional Assessment Measure) and explore how this tool could start conversations with families about social-emotional development in young children. 
In order to assess the benefits and ease of use of this tool, the SEAM was presented to a parent focus group at the 2018 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference.  During the focus group, families completed the tool and provided feedback.  Feedback was positive, showing the SEAM is helpful to start a dialogue between families and professionals.  Families also suggested a few minor changes to the language in the tool.  For example, “sing” would be changed to “sing, sign or gesture.” 

After several presentations at national conferences and offering parents and parent leaders a way to become involved, Fostering Joy is quickly becoming a movement!  The concept also inspires professionals who want opportunities to support in finding joy with their child.

How Can “Fostering Joy” Be Taught and Learned?

Book Cover

Fostering Joy as an intentional practice of looking for and encouraging joyful moments between caregivers and their child who is deaf or hard of hearing.  Think of this example:  breathing and meditation/mindfulness are two very different things.  Everyone breathes.  Yet not everyone meditates or practices mindfulness.  However, meditation or mindfulness adds intention and purpose when done with purposeful breathing.  This practice has been proven to be helpful for psychological well-being.  We hope the same for Fostering Joy.  Finding joy should come as naturally as breathing for families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing and the professionals providing services.

Our Fostering Joy Reflective Journal is available now to help you Find Joy. More Info...

How Can I Get Involved?

Become a Joy Ambassador!  If you are a parent, parent leader supporting other parents, or a professional, you play an important role in the “movement!”  It’s easy.  Joy Ambassadors… 

ShareCommit to ensuring parent stories incorporate the joys of raising a child(ren) who are deaf and hard of hearing.

InspireWrite and/or share articles that reinforce the importance of infusing joy and focusing on positive and joyful experiences. 

SpreadPresent at conferences/workshops emphasizing Fostering Joy.

Spread:  Share the Fostering Joy Video under “What Do Parent Say?" above.

Powerpoint Template:


We have created a Fostering Joy PowerPoint template.

You are invited to use the free template.  You are welcome to add more slides for a stand-alone session or delete slides from the deck to fit a presentation you are already doing.  We ask that you do not alter the content on the original slides provided.  

After you use the PowerPoint template, we ask two things:

  1.  Let us know where & when you used the slides (conference, parent event, advisory meeting, etc.).
  2. Complete a brief survey to provide feedback.

    Thank you for spreading Fostering Joy by using the Fostering Joy PowerPoint Template!
    We ask that you provide the following information to help us track and improve our impact:
    Your Name/Organization
    Your Contact Email
    Where You Presented “Fostering Joy”
    Date of Presentation
    Feedback for the Core Team

Click this link to provide feedback for us, thanks!

InfuseIncorporate a focus on joy in parent to parent support activities and events, advisory groups, work plans, educational advocacy, etc.

Fostering Joy Logo

Share/download our Family Tip Sheet. Also here in Spanish: Las Alegrías de Criar a Niños Sordos o Hipoacusicos

Download the Fostering Joy logo to create your own materials/giveaway’s (buttons, mugs, t-shirts, etc.)

ConnectInvite parents to join a closed Fostering Joy Facebook group:

Delve: Professionals, use the adapted SEAM tool (once released) with families and provide ideas for playful engagement.

Encourage: Professionals and parents, follow Instagram @DHHFosteringJoy and use #DHHFosteringJoy


Fostering Joy Family Tip Sheets 

Taking short breaks from the stresses of everyday life helps families explore and appreciate the joyful moments that come with raising their children. Here are a few tips, offered by families, for finding joy everyday - taking time to celebrate milestones, connecting with your children, and letting the lights of their love shine through.

Download Tip Sheets In:








Tip Sheet cover page

Who is the Fostering Joy Core Team?

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Amy Szarkowski

Amy Szarkowski, Psychologist, LEND, Boston Children's Hospital; Harvard Medical School; Children’s Center for Communication/Beverly School for the Deaf
“My moments of greatest joy involve my own children - when I am truly attending to their curiosity and noticing their 'ah-ha moments', when I allow myself to let go of my own agenda and delight in what they are doing and how they are growing in the present moment, and when I fully embrace and reciprocate their demonstrations of love. I wish to live in a world where all caregivers and families - including and especially those with children who are deaf or hard of hearing - can foster that kind of joy of being.“

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Candace Lindow-Davies

Candace Lindow-Davies, Director of Outreach, Hands & Voices HQ
“As the parent of a young adult who is Deaf “Plus” (many health challenges), practicing the art of Fostering Joy is essential to daily life.  When I feel my son is hitting roadblocks, slowing down and shifting the focus to his strengths and reveling in all that he has accomplished is just the ticket to help him push on through. I seek joyful moments every day to keep filling my reserve!”

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Jennifer Clark

Jennifer Clark, Early Intervention Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Specialist, Hawaii Department of Health Early Intervention

D/HH Fostering Joy is an intentional mental shift for parents and professionals. We get wrapped up in achieving goals, coming up with strategies, attending meetings, etc., and forget to delight in the joy filled moments unfolding right before our eyes. Refocusing on joy, helps us to refocus on what matters most…the kids.”

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Janet DesGeorges

Janet DesGeorges, Executive Director, Hands & Voices HQ

"When I think of the journey of raising my daughter who is deaf... not knowing what this meant in the beginning...to being a confident parent with a strong sense of who our daughter could become... to living through the different stages and ages of her life...to now enjoying seeing her thrive and succeed in her life as an adult...really, the only word I can think of right now is... joy."

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Sarah Honigfeld

Sarah Honigfeld, Parent Infant Program Director, The Learning Center for the Deaf

“As a Deaf person with hearing parents, I am fortunate to have a strong and positive relationship with my family. This wouldn't have been possible without their love and acceptance for me as a whole person with multiple identities. This positive experience led me to join Fostering Joy, to share my experience with families with Deaf children.”

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Nicole Hutchinson

Nicole Hutchinson, Parent-Infant Program Coordinator, The River School, Washington DC

“I am Fostering Joy because I love watching children and parents bond through joyful moments together. I'm excited to help families focus on the joyful moments of everyday interactions with their kiddos who are deaf or hard of hearing. “

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Rashaun Davis

Rashaun Davis, Parent Advocate, Delaware Hands & Voices

“As a parent of a DHH child we encourage Maddison to break barriers and shatter limits. Maddie has many accomplishments, 3x published author Including a national book tour, she speaks Mandarin, plays soccer, basketball, gymnastics and is very active in school and church. We are her biggest advocate! Her smile, energy, and passion for life brings us joy.“

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Cora Shahid

Cora Shahid, Executive Director, California Hands & Voices

“I have been blessed with the remarkable gift and great privilege of parenting three incredible individuals for the last 30 years. I learned early on that my children respond positively to optimism and in our home we make a conscious effort to spot joy each day. We dish out compliments, shake off the little things and we start our day with acknowledging what we are grateful for. It takes focus but it is definitely worth practicing each new day.  As a chapter leader I feel inspired by the joy families experience through our programs and I am incredibly honored to walk this journey with them.

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.’” -  Henri J.M. Nouwen

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Beth Jones

Beth Jones, GBYS Coordinator, Nevada Hands & Voices

"As a mom who had two of my three young children identified as being Deaf/Hard of Hearing on the same day, I struggled with finding the joy at the beginning of our family's journey. Meeting other parents and professionals within Hands & Voices helped me take breaks from the stress of appointments, assessments and the fear of missing milestones, and truly helped me focus on and celebrate the joyful memories of raising my children."

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Karen Putz

Karen Putz, Co-Director of D/HH Infusion, H&V Headquarters

 “As a mom of three deaf kids who are now adults, I often tell parents not to blink, because the parenting journey unfolds quickly! It’s a reminder to find and create those joy moments throughout the journey.”

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Marilyn Sass-Lehrer

Past Member: Marilyn Sass-Lehrer, Professor Emerita, Gallaudet University

“I am inspired by families who have children who are deaf or hard of hearing. I see joy in their faces and love in their playful interactions. Families are awesome, and I am grateful to be part of a movement that celebrates them every day.”

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Linda Lytle

Past Member: Linda Lytle, Professor, Department of Counseling, Gallaudet University



How Do I Get More Information?

Parent Ambassadors, contact:

Professional Ambassadors, contact: