Parent Mentor Program

The Parent Mentor Program is a “parent to parent” matching program for families with children who are diagnosed with hearing loss.  Through this program,  families will have an opportunity to establish a supportive relationship with a Parent Mentor, an experienced and trained parent of a child who is deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind or deaf with additional disabilities. The Parent Mentor Program is available to families with children with a confirmed hearing loss, ages 3 – 21.

Who can request services?

Service requests for the Parent Mentor Program can be made by school district staff, parents, guardians, or other service providers.

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What are goals of the Parent Mentor Program?

  • To provide parents with emotional support, as well as unbiased information regarding communication options and considerations for their child.
  • To provide parents with an understanding of the unique needs of children who are deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind.
  • To link parents to resources available locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally.
  • To effectively link families to their county Birth to 3 Program or school district.
  • To provide unbiased information, support, and resources so families are able to make informed decisions on behalf of their child(ren).

Is there a cost for the Parent Mentor Program?

No, this program is free of charge to families.

Who are the Parent Mentors?

The Parent Mentor Program is comprised of specially trained “Parent Mentors” throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Parent Mentors represent a diverse group of parents, including parents who have children who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, deaf with additional disabilities, and a Spanish speaking Parent Mentor. Our Parent Mentors bring a wealth of parenting and decision-making experiences to the Parent Mentor Program team. Parent Mentors have been selected for their ability to work with families of children with hearing loss and for their flexibility in understanding the variety of educational and communication options available to deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind children.

What is ‘unique’ about the Parent Mentor Program?

The Parent Mentor Program Parent Mentors have received specialized training; this training provides a strong foundation in supporting families without a bias around communication modes or methods, as well as a functional understanding of formal systems and services available to families and their children. Parent Mentors are able to bring their direct experience, specialized knowledge, and personal compassion to their role while making the family’s needs their primary agenda.

How does the Parent Mentor Program help support collaborations with the educational system?

Parent Mentors ensure that connections to the child’s educational program (County Birth to 3 Program or local school district) are made, in addition to supporting the family through transition to/from Birth to 3 to the local school district. Parent Mentors can provide helpful suggestions to support parents as active participants of the IFSP/IEP teams.

What happens after a request for services is made?

The Outreach Program Coordinator will initiate contact with the family within two weeks to discuss the program components / supports and ask the family if they are interested in participating or not.  Upon consent, the Outreach Program Coordinator will complete a Parent Mentor Program Intake Form detailing the conversation with the parent(s) and then assign a Parent Mentor to the family.  The assigned Parent Mentor will then initiate direct contact with the family to set up their first meeting.

For more information, please contact:
Bonnie Eldred, Outreach Program Coordinator, bonnie.eldred@wesp-dhh.wi.gov