REACh Families — Reaching East African Children and Families

Reaching East African Children and Families

Statewide Need
More than half of Texans are black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian or Native American and are less likely to receive the services and support their family needs. We can better understand the different values, cultures, and customs in Texas to inform the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities’ future advocacy work, planning and grant project development. We hope to do this by building relationships with organizations that are working to improve the lives of individuals from ethnic minority cultures, to support leaders to change the systems that provide supports and services, and to assist people of ethnic minorities who have developmental disabilities to have better access to services and supports.

Project Goal
Support and educate families of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Somali descent that include children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) on various topics related to raising children with special needs to help them to care and advocate for their children. Increase community awareness of disabilities and provide presentations and materials for families in their native languages of Somali, Amharic and Tigrinya. Help people learn how to recognize the early signs of IDD and access services for early intervention.

Project Summary
Reaching Families Advocacy and Support Group (REACh) leadership worked to support families and children with special needs by providing assistance at home, school, and in medical settings. Educational events were provided by a local family therapist, covering 12 diverse topics, including family relationships, managing family life, self-care for the caregiver and when to access counseling. The organization held two social events for the whole family. Childcare was provided, as well as a mothers’ holiday dinner to strengthen relationships between mothers, share coping strategies and encourage each other.

The organization’s leadership presented on disability-related topics and provided translated literature in two languages at seven culturally appropriate events, including the Ethiopian Day Celebration, Ethiopian Darussalam Muslim Mothers Group, Debre Berhan Holy Trinity Orthodox Church Annual Celebration, and the 6th Annual Global Ethiopian Diaspora Conference on Health Care and Medical Education.

Various documents were translated into Amharic, Tigrinya and Somali, including the organization’s brochure, autism resources for families and a flyer on early signs of autism. Families were provided binders with organized systems of filing information in which they could keep medical, educational, and agency service information. These binders were intended to make communication with providers, schools and medical professionals easier. Valuable resources and translated materials were included in the binders.

REACh also provided assistance for all families who requested support and mentoring during Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) as well as other agency meetings.

  • Impact
    • Families received support and counseling in all areas of family life, including behavior management, family relationships, and access to services
    • Families were empowered to be better advocates for their children, and assistance was provided during ARD and other agency meetings.
    • Families were provided information and were given assistance in applying for various services from governmental agencies, scholarships, and grants from other private and non-profit organizations
    • The Ethiopian/ Eritrean communities are better informed about the prevalence of autism, the early sign of autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as the social stigma of disability
    • Members of the community are better able to support families and individuals with IDD
    • Spanish-speaking and English-speaking families were able to gain awareness

Project Period
Sep 2013 – Aug 2014

100 Bald Cypress Circle
Irving, TX 75063

Geographic Reach
Collin, Tarrant and Dallas counties

shape of state of Texas in blue with Collin, Tarrent and Dallas counties colored orange