Parent Information Center of Delaware awarded Arsht Cannon Fund grant to support Hispanic parents of young children with special healthcare needs in Sussex County


The Parent Information Center (PIC) of Delaware was awarded a grant from the Arsht Cannon Fund to support Creciendo Como Padres (Growing as Parents). Creciendo Como Padres (CCP) is a program of the Parent Information Center that is designed to help Sussex County Hispanic parents of young children with special health care needs develop the skills that will be necessary to become lifelong advocates for their children.

“We saw a formidable problem faced by young Hispanic families, many of them migrant, who had children with significant healthcare issues,” said Marie-Anne Aghazadian, Executive Director of PIC. “Because of language and cultural barriers, along with added transportation barriers presented in Sussex County, families were unable to access essential health and school programs” Additionally, many of the parents had recently moved to the area and were isolated from other families because of their child’s healthcare issues.

To address these challenges, the CCP program coordinator Anna Ornelas maps a pathway with parents to help connect them with the appropriate supports and services for their child. Parents also identify the skills that they need to better support their children. Upon graduation from the intensive program, parents then become mentors to other parents new to CCP, establishing a support system of shared concerns.

“I am impressed by the focused efforts of Ms. Ornelas with families during the critical years between ages 3 to 8 when children with disabilities are changing rapidly and parents need to be empowered with information and skills to ensure that their child has access to the best of services, programs and equipment,” said Dr. Christine Cannon, Director of the Arsht-Cannon Fund.

CCP parents participate in extensive skill-building, including learning how to access transportation, how to use technology to support their children, and how to access benefits of health care insurance.

“In a survey of the parents in CCP, we discovered that nearly half the families did not have reliable transportation to take them to appointments,” Ms. Aghazadian said. “We also discovered that most of the parents had access to the internet, but didn’t understand how to use the internet to find out more about their child’s disability or to communicate with teachers or nurses.” Ms. Ornelas has focused significant attention on building communication and computer skills that will help parents in all aspects of caring for their children and for becoming more successful in this country.

“The Arsht-Cannon Fund support will continue the successful CCP pilot and will help more Latino parents in their most important roles as advocates for their children, which includes the responsibilities to navigate the health care and educational systems for children with special needs,” said Dr. Cannon added.