By: Erin Smith
There is a new initiative coming to Bladen County that will assist parents of kids with special health care needs called the Innovative Approaches Project: Parent Advisory Council. The program is designed to help parents navigate the system and learn about their options.
According to April Oxendine, who serves as the Innovative Approaches Coordinator, the program is a grant funded program.
“This initiative is supported through the NC Division of Public Health, Children, and Youth Branch. Our contracted partner is Family Support Network of Southeastern North Carolina, Inc.,” said Oxendine.
The grant is a three year grant and is centered around system changes, added Oxendine. The first year was spent in Robeson County and Oxendine says the program will remain active there but they are looking to expand it to Bladen and Columbus counties.
Oxendine said the Innovative Approaches Project is centered around parents and deals with issues of empowerment and advocacy. She said the project teaches parents how to navigate the system and locate and advocate for the services their child needs.
Oxendine said one of the goals of the Parent Advisory Council is to learn what the needs are in each county.
“We really don’t know exactly what the needs are until we get the group together,” said Oxendine. Innovative Approaches will also perform a needs assessment in each county.
She said spaces for the Parent Advisory Council are limited to 8 parents. Oxendine said the Parent Advisory Council will train those parents to be parent mentors.
“Once the grant ends, we will have trained parent mentors,” said Oxendine.
Oxendine said another part of the project is the Innovative Approaches Steering Committee. The first meeting of the Innovative Approaches Steering Committee will be on Tuesday, August 9, from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. at the Bladen County Public Library in Elizabethtown. This meeting is open to the public but Oxendine requests that you RSVP so enough materials and snacks can be provided.
No date or location has been announced for the first Parent Advisory Council meeting. If you would like more information about serving on the Parent Advisory Council or to RSVP to the Innovative Approaches Project Steering Committee meeting, call April Oxendine at 910-671-3423 or Tina Ivins at 910-792-6133.