This project is intended to provide health information and education to families of children and youth with special health care needs in Vermont, especially in the our underserved and under-resourced communities. It aspires to educate healthcare providers about family-centered care through a family's eyes. By enhancing families' and providers' knowledge, better, more coordinated services are provided, and better health outcomes made possible.
Activities/Methodology: Vermont Family Network will continue to utilize a dynamic database to gather pertinent information from families and professionals. Information will be used to edify partners, improve services and supports to families, and identify areas where changes are indicated. Collaborations with system of care partners will be enhanced. Field staff who serve in the most remote and under-resourced areas of the state will be maintained; providing health education and information to families and improving service coordination. Training and support opportunities responsive to families' needs will continue to be offered on an ongoing basis, including in our New American community. We will continue to promote family-centered care through efforts with the University of VT, the Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Healthcare, and the VT Blueprint for Health Medical Homes. Families will be connected with/supported in leadership opportunities in the system of care. VFN will continue to pursue other funding and partnerships to sustain our Family-to- Family Health Information Center.
Medical Education Project
The Medical Education Project (MEP), a well-established program, has reached thousands of medical professionals in training. The program engages medical students at various levels of their education (for example 1st year or 3rd year medical students, etc) and allows them to have direct experience with and feedback from families about their lives, challenges and what parts of the system have worked and what have been difficult. Reviews from both students and families are consistently very positive, with families feeling empowered and many saying that it was therapeutic to share their stories, while medical students express excitement about the contact with “real” patient experience while simultaneously reporting shock and awe at what families face and their dedication and hard work day after day. Feedback from a medical student: “This disease didn’t just mean life in a wheelchair for her son. It had implications for her entire family. In the future I will be able to give my patients a diagnosis with the full knowledge of what it means for a child and family and provide both emotional and physical support when needed.”