The Exceptional Families Network provides important programs for youth in our community who have special needs. Our programs help these creative children express themselves and explore their world in their own unique way. We offer over 20 activities each month that build skills and training through hands on experiences. Our programming is divided into three major components including:
- Educational Services. The first years after a diagnosis is received, the New Roads Program (originally named Starting Point Project) aids families in identifying government benefits that might be available and navigating the special education system. The New Roads Program helps stabilize the family until the parents understand the unique needs of their child, are connected to services, and have the tools needed to advocate for their child. Families continue learning with EFN through educational workshops/classes throughout the year on topics that are chosen by the Parent Advisory Council. >>Learn more.
- Friendship Connections. This program provides instruction in social and communication skills for children and teens (birth to 19 years old) with special needs. Additional Friendship Connections programming is designed for the entire family. The connectedness that occurs through external relationships with a supportive, engaged community reduces the sense of isolation experienced by each program participant while increasing the positive benefits of inclusion for them in the community. Over 400 Friendship Connections activities are held throughout the year for children, youth, and families. >>Learn more.
- Support Groups. We have two Puget Sound locations (Tacoma and Olympia) and offer families throughout the region important services and respite. We provide speakers and topics that are of interest to our exceptional families and address controversial subject matter that has real life impacts on special needs families ability to thrive. >>Learn more.
Not only do we engage exceptional young people in activities that contribute to their growth, we train parents to support that growth and educate and equip our community to provide an inclusive environment that honors the unique abilities of all children. Our focus is on personal, family and community health and acceptance through hands on experiences that develop esteem, confidence and acceptance.
Our program model is unique due to its inclusivity, as well as the hands-on experiential component and respectful format that engages disenfranchised families. We connect families into a community that is empowered to thrive. Although a majority of our families have children diagnosed on the autism spectrum, we welcome all diagnoses, disabilities, and differences. In 2017, EFN provided 627 hours of service to 1925 participants, through the dedicated talents of 1.5 staff members and 200 volunteers.