Creating a Culture of Inclusion
December 2nd, 2022
“I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot;
together we can do great things.”
Here at Family Promise Metrowest we are proud of our ability to be responsive to what we call emerging needs. In our conversations with families seeking services or those already in our programs, our ears are constantly tuned to pick up on new challenges or gaps in services that families in our region are experiencing.
One such issue we’ve been tracking for years is a strong correlation between housing instability and having a child in the family with special needs. It’s not hard to draw the connections here: families with special needs children frequently have issues finding caretakers, particularly after school; the additional supports a child may need can strain family budgets; and safe, affordable housing that meets a child’s special needs can be difficult to find. Each one of these challenges can set a family up for housing loss.
One of the many benefits of our new, on-site shelter is that we now have the capacity to safely house children with special needs. Our building is now fully accessible, and we have the flexibility and resources to adapt spaces to meet different family requirements. So this Wednesday, we took our first step toward becoming an even more inclusive organization by inviting the Autism Alliance of MetroWest to our Day Center to provide an “Autism Welcoming Business” training for our entire staff.
Executive Co-Directors Allison Daigle and Pam McKillop offered an engaging and comprehensive training that they’d carefully customized for our shelter setting, and they left us with scores of ideas for making sure our space would be welcoming for these special kids. They also left us with a toolkit of supplies to share with families, designed to meet the unique needs of a child with autism.
And then what we call a “Family Promise Moment” happened.
Shortly after this training one of our new LIFE families stopped by the office with her son to pick up a check for a security deposit for her family’s new home. In her conversation with Stephanie, she disclosed for the first time that her son had autism and she was concerned about bringing him to meet her new landlord. Stephanie was able to immediately share some of the training she had just received, and gave the mom some ideas about how she might prepare her son for the meeting so he could get over this important hurdle before their move. She also shared some of the supplies that had come in the toolkit, along with contact information for the Autism Alliance of Metrowest. The mom was immensely grateful—since moving to Massachusetts, she shared, she hadn’t been able to access any resources to support her son.