I haven't been around here much lately because I have been so busy in my new (one year already!) job as a family advocate for families with special needs kids. My agency works with kids with the highest level of mental health issues, and many also have autism, developmental disabilities, or other concurrent diagnoses. With intensive support, most of our kids are able to live in the community, but some are in short or long term placements, i.e. psych hospitals, group homes, or residential facilities. I have been lobbying for a support group for the parents, and we finally are into the serious planning stages.
I thought I would ask y'all what you would like in a support group if such a thing were offered in your area. Or do you know of such a group? Could you tell me about it, or help me get in touch with the leaders?
Childcare is a possibility - I think that is essential for many families.Childcare for siblings might bring the total number of kids to an unmanageable level... Should I try to set up a therapeutic activity for the kids? I think I could have 2 or 3 "skills trainers" (interns or college students already working with the kids in our agency) available for more than basic babysitting.
What kind of structure would be good? Planned curriculum, or just time for venting, or a combination? Guest speakers?
How big a group would be ideal?
Weekly, or more or less frequently? Evenings were my first thought, but days or weekends are also possible.1 or 2 hours?
Should I try to provide coffee and snacks? Limited budget from our non-profit, but it feels important to me. Would a pot-luck dinner with the kids before the group itself starts be a good idea?
What else have I forgotten to ask? I am excited about this idea, and have gotten a lot of interest from the staff and families with my agency. But I haven't attended a support group for 20 years or so, and I don't really know how to start.
Any suggestions would be welcome, and thanks in advance.