A bill establishing a statewide program to empower families with children with developmental disabilities was signed into law March 31. The legislation, House Bill 2394, expands the national Parent to Parent program to all 39 Washington counties.
Rep. Maureen Walsh, prime sponsor of the bill, said expansion of the program is critical to families throughout the state struggling to navigate the system of resources and services available to them.
“The Parent to Parent program has been successful in counties throughout Washington, and this bill is a small but important investment to make in the remaining eight counties that currently do not have this program,” said Walsh, R-Walla Walla. “Matching parents with volunteer parents who also have children with similar special needs will help new parents feel part of a community and not feel so isolated, as well as help them navigate the variety of services available.”
The Parent to Parent program is a national nonprofit organization that supports parents of children with developmental disabilities by connecting them with other volunteer parents of children with similar needs. Services provided by the program include training and workshops for families. The program currently operates in 31 Washington counties.
The bill was brought to Walsh’s attention by a constituent, Carla Nibler, whose son, Mark, has a disability.
“It is important that all families with children with special needs have the supports, both emotional and informational, to help them navigate their child’s life in their communities,” said Nibler, executive director of Walla Walla Valley Disability Network, sponsoring agency of Walla Walla County Parent to Parent.
The bill will go into effect later this year.
PHOTO: Rep. Maureen Walsh’s House Bill 2394 is signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee March 31, 2016.