• Capacity building

Platform of Families of Children with Disabilities:#ParentsToParents

#ParentsToParents is a support network in Slovakia where parents of children with disabilities provide counselling to other parents based on their own experiences.

Name of the practice: #ParentsToParents

Organisation: Platform of Families of Children with Disabilities

Country: Slovakia 

Funding: Project funding by small Slovak donors and UNICEF.

Description of the organisation:

The Platform of Families of Children with Disability (“Platform of Families”) is a civic association actively operating in entire region of Slovak Republic. It was established in 2014 as an informal parental initiative,who based on their own and other parent's experience saw the need to improve conditions for children with all kinds of disabilities and their families in Slovakia.

The Platform of Families has grown into a strong and respected NGO cooperating with several organisations including state institutions, UNICEF, The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR. The team consists of 50 devoted, mostly part-time working and volunteering, parents and their supporters.

Its main activities encompass:

  • advocating for the rights of families by influencing governmental policies and strategies on the national level;
  • raising awareness towards a better understanding and acceptance of disability within  Slovak society;
  • supporting families with children with disabilities through the “InkluLINKA” helpdesk;
  • providing free of charge training sessions and courses for all parents.

Description of practice: 

#ParentsToParents is a unique support network, which has been initiated and run by the Platform of Families since 2019. Within this network, a team of trained peer counsellors, who are parents of children with disabilities, provide valuable peer-to-peer counselling based on their own experience to other parents and family members of children with disabilities. It is a unique project in Slovakia with a country-wide reach, which has already contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of families of children with disabilities more than 5000 times, supporting at least 2200 families, so far. The network includes 43 peer councillors, each of them specialises in a specific topic. Together these councillors cover all regions of Slovakia and all types of disabilities. The network has an ethic code and a code of conduct which involves supervisions and ongoing education of those within the network in line with self-guarding regulations.

Impact and sustainability: The peer network of Platform of Families has already contributed to improvement of the quality of life of families of children with disabilities more than 5000 times and supported at least 2200 families, so far.

Scalability & transferability:

The network is at the moment based on volunteer involvement of majority of the peers. Platform of Families is advocating for involving peer counselling to the legislation. The lack of support professionals opens the chance to involve peers in services in health, social and educational system in the future. The code of conduct, trainings and ethic code are an inspiration for setting up the "peer methodology" system in Slovakia.

Contact information: Monika Fričová, Statutory Representative