ADDRESS: 350 Braden Ave., Sarasota, FL 34243 PHONE: (941) 355-7637 FAX: (941) 358-3069 Office Hours: 7:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Maximizing the Impact

The title of this blog is reciprocal – at Easter Seals Southwest Florida, we strive to maximize the impact of our services just as much as we hope to empower families of individuals with disabilities to maximize the impact of services available to them.

I often hear families confused about who to contact for support services, where to go, where to begin, and even though I work in human services, the “system” is confusing to me as well! I know that if I feel this way and some of my professional peers do too, then families must feel the same confusion and frustration. The question inevitably boils down to “isn’t there just one place we can go to for help?”

Easter Seals Southwest Florida is an active member of two different county systems that function as “one-stop” informational resources for residents of Manatee and Sarasota counties. The first system is the United Way Manasota 2-1-1 telephone information database (http://www.uw211manasota.net). Any resident from either county can call 2-1-1 for information regarding a number of social services. During this time of economic need, the calls to the county’s 2-1-1 call centers have increased exponentially.

Another “one-stop” service is The Whole Child Project, an online database resource for Manatee county families of young children (birth-6 years old) who are looking for supports. The family must go to the website and complete a profile (www.wholechildmanatee.com) which is then compared with resources in the database. After the family submits the profile, the relevant resources are then “matched” to the family’s needs. The providing agencies are then notified to contact the family and initiate services.

The Whole Child Project and United Way Manasota 2-1-1 are two of the many resources available in our community that help to link families with the supports they need. Easter Seals Southwest Florida is a partner of both programs, along with many others.

My blog last week discussed the importance of having “a village” to help raise a child with disabilities but know too that Easter Seals Southwest Florida considers itself not only part of the village but also a “village” of resources to help families maximize the impact of their lives and of the services they receive.