Community Networking

Each new family will present new questions and launch the search for new answers. Specific contacts and resources will have to be sought in each case. However, the networking and resource collection that is done in advance will facilitate that process.

MFRCs’ are experts at those aspects of our community that are specific for military families. In developing that expertise we have recognized the importance of our community partners who offer other areas of family support within their realms of expertise.

Supporting families with special needs and responsibilities incorporates a wide range of potential needs across the whole age span. Finding and becoming involved in a few key committees or community organizations can open doors to a significant range of programs and services. How do you make the connections with those potential partners in our community?

In most cases, entry into a committee or coalition starts with a connection to one of its members. Contact an organization that you have worked with before. Ask about professional networks that they belong to. Ask about groups in the community that could introduce you to a wide range of the needs and supports for a given group of people. When you are selecting the networks that you will join, look for groups with a diverse membership. This will help connect you with a wider range of partners and increase the chances you will already know who to call when the new question comes.

Eldercare

Many communities have groups made up of seniors or of the agencies that serve seniors. These may be veterans groups, church groups, volunteer agencies or health care agencies. Connect with a number of different groups. Attend meetings or special presentations. Larger communities may have several networks with different areas of concentration.

Children with Special Needs

Often these groups can form around a specific need or diagnosis for both professional development and family support purposes. These groups are helpful to know about for connecting families. However, if you are trying to get a sense of the supports offered across the community, these groups may be too specific. Connect with the local children’s hospital, outpatient clinic, or child development centre to ask about their professional networks.

Respite

You may find that you get a sense of local respite care options through the other networks that you are involved in. However, given that relocating families often have to spend time on agency wait lists, having strong respite contacts may help you brainstorm creative options for respite while waiting.

Chronic Disease Management

Spouses and parents of military members can be influenced by such a broad range of needs, it may be hard to find a group that could help you connect with the appropriate community resources. Some of the eldercare groups can include supports relevant to a large age range including volunteer assistance groups, home care and transportation support. You could connect with local public health, hospitals or specific not-for-profit agencies (like the Canadian Cancer Society or the Heart and Stroke Foundation) to ask what professional networks they belong to.

These network connections will help you with an overview of the services and agencies available in your community. They will also connect you with different areas of expertise for supporting families with special needs and responsibilities. You may find new connections to resource libraries or to potential workshop presenters. Most importantly, these may bring you closer to finding the best answers for the next family to walk through the door.
 

This page was updated November 23, 2011

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