Seven Tips To Choosing A Summer Camp for Your Special Needs Child

April 2, 2014

This is Part 3 of a three part Summer Camps series.

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The summer camp experience is integral to many children’s summer plans. The right camp can broaden your child’s horizons, develop new skills, create a sense of independence, and provide hours of endless summertime fun.

Summer Camps

For many parents, sending a child to summer camp requires careful planning and consideration. For parents of special needs children, planning for summer camp is often more challenging, and sometimes overwhelming.

The thought of sending your child to camp might seem daunting, but the benefits are most often worth the effort. So how do you go about finding just the right camp for your child?

Seven Tips To Choosing A Summer Camp

With careful consideration, nearly any child can have a great summer camp experience. To help ease the challenge of finding the right camp, here are seven tips help you find and choose a summer camp for your special needs child.

1. Establish Summer Camp Goals and Expectations

Before searching for a summer camp, decide what it is you and your child want from this camp experience. Ask yourself key questions about what matters most in a summer camp.

  • Do you want a camp that fosters independence?
  • A camp focused on your child’s special needs or a general camp?
  • Day camp or overnight camp?
  • Inclusion camps? Therapeutic camps? Social skills camps?
  • What activities does your child enjoy doing?
  • Does the camp offer these activities?
  • Will his personality “fit” into the camp style?

There are many camps to choose from. Establishing three to five basic “summer camp goals and expectations” based upon your child’s special needs will help you narrow the field of summer camp choices.

Kids Summer Camps

Summer Camps for Kids with Special Needs

2. Research Summer Camp Options

Now that you have a clear understanding of what you and your child’s expectations are for a summer camp, begin researching camps that meet your camp criteria. Search online. Ask your pediatrician and special needs support groups for camps they’d recommend. Read local camp guides.

Don’t forget to also talk with parents of other special needs children, your child’s therapists and teachers.

3. Develop a Summer Camp Short List

Sort through all that summer camp research information to identify several camps that appear to meet your specific camp criteria. Write down key information about each camp including:

  • Educational or recreational based camp? A combination of both?
  • Where is it located? Far from home? A neighboring community?
  • How much does it cost?
  • What is the camp philosophy?
  • What are the camp dates and hours?
  • Who recommended the camp to you?

Be sure to also write down what it was about each camp that made you decide to include it in your short list. You are now one step closer to identifying the “best fit” summer camp for your child.

4. Create a Summer Camp Key Questions List

You know your child best. You also know what it’s going to take to ensure your child has a great camp experience. Based upon the summer camps on your Short List, develop a list of five to ten key questions that you can use to narrow down the field of choices. Questions like:

  • Is the camp licensed and accredited?
  • How accessible is the camp facility?
  • What is the camper to counselor ratio?
  • How are counselors chosen for the camp? How are they trained?
  • How will my child’s medical needs be managed at camp?
  • Is there an on-site medical staff? What are they trained in?
  • Is there a “quiet zone” my child can go to if over-stimulated?
  • Will my child be able to participate in camp activities?
  • Will my child “fit in” to the camp environment?
  • How many campers will be attending when my child is there?
  • Are there financial aid or scholarships if there is a camper fee?

Ask questions that are specific to your child’s special needs as well as general camp questions. A well thought out question list can be instrumental in ensuring you get the answers you need to determine if that camp is the right choice for your child.

5. Talk With The Camp Director About Your Child’s Needs

With your summer camp Short List and Key Questions list in hand, it’s time to pick up the phone. Call each camp and ask to speak with either the camp director or medical director. Ask your Key Questions and be sure you are comfortable with the responses.

Close your conversation by asking the camp director if she has any questions regarding your child. You might find out even more information that can set you at ease about the camp.

Special Needs Summer Camps

All kids can enjoy the summer camp experience.

Camps want your child to be happy and enjoy the camp experience as much as you do. Be very open and transparent about your child’s special needs. It’s the best way to ensure a good camp fit for your child.

6. Plan A “Pre-Summer” Camp Visit

A camp site visit can go a long way in deciding whether or not that camp will “work” for your special needs child. If your child has a physical disability, a site visit might be integral in ensuring  your child’s mobility while at camp.

Timing doesn’t permit an on-site visit? Ask for references of previous campers with similar special needs, and give them a call. Nothing beats a personal reference from another family that’s “been there.”

7. Digest and Contemplate

Now sit back, review all that you’ve learned, and then sleep on it. Start the next day fresh, and get ready to make that summer camp decision. It might be a difficult one, but the right summer camp will provide your child with an experience not soon forgotten.

Fun Summer Camps

Do you have any summer camp selection tips to share with us? Please let us know in the Comments section.

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Don’t miss the other two blogs in the Summer Camp Series:

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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Images: CampASCCA (kids), LudwigVanStandard (camp sign) and KamathResidency (welcome sign) via Flickr.


Be Heard! Disability Day is April 2nd!

March 17, 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 is Delaware’s 7th Annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall

Are you the parent of a child with special needs? Do you have questions about disability services offered in Delaware? Do you want to know more about how the state can assist you and your child?

Would you like to talk with your state legislator about living with disabilities in Delaware, to help him better understand the needs of a person with disabilities?

Then you need to attend Delaware’s 7th annual Disability Day in Legislative Hall.

Disability Day Delaware

Disability Day at Legislative Hall is your opportunity to hear what the state can do for people with disabilities. It is also your opportunity to ask questions, and to discuss in greater detail the needs of people with disabilities living in Delaware.

The Disability Day Agenda

Disability Day attendees will learn more about the state’s current position in a wide range of topics relevant to people with disabilities.

  • Family Support Waiver
  • Dental Care Insurance
  • Community First Choice Option
  • Money Follows The Person
  • Personal Attendant Services Funding
  • Transition Coordinators
  • Source of Income Discrimination
  • Disability Law Program – Special Education Advocacy
  • Accessible Transportation
  • Building Infrastructures and Supports Needed to Phase Out the Issuance of Subminimum Wage Certification

Details about each agenda item can be found at 2013-2014 Legislative Priorities. These legislative priorities also make excellent talking points during conversations with state legislators.

Disability Day Event Details

When: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Time: 11:00 am to 3:30 am

Where: Legislative Hall, 411 Legislative Ave, Dover Delaware

Note: You must provide a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license to enter Legislative Hall.

Questions about Disability Day? Call the DDC office at (302) 739 – 3333.

Schedule Your Legislative Appointments Now

Are you interested in talking with your Delaware legislator about disability issues? Schedule an appointment now for Disability day to discuss your top disability issues directly with your legislator.

Delaware events

You are highly encouraged to schedule appointments in advance to secure time on Disability Day with your legislator. These links can help you navigate through the process of how to contact your legislator and schedule an appointment:

Remember – Your Voice Does Matter!

Your legislators are ready and waiting to hear from you. Yes, your voice really does matter!

Delaware Disability Day 2014

Check Disability Day at Legislative Hall for additional information on Disability Day and Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council for other upcoming DDC meetings and events.

Hope to see you there!

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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Images:Delaware DDC and Bruno Buontempo via Flickr (Megaphone)


2014 Summer Camps for Specialized Needs – Part 2

March 3, 2014

This is Part 2 of a three part Summer Camps series.

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Choosing the “best fit” summer camp for your child with specialized needs or chronic medical issues can be a daunting task. How do you know if that camp can manage those specialized medical issues? Will they be able to react appropriately if your child has a melt down, or requires medication during the camp session?

special needs summer camp

We at Delaware Family Voices understand the need to find a summer camp that offers the camp experience in a safe, nurturing environment for our children who have specialized needs or chronic medical issues. Listed here are summer camps in the Delaware area that can accommodate highly specialized needs.

Asthma

Asthma Camp

Asthma Camp is a week-long day program for Delaware children ages 7-11 with asthma. Supervision will be provided by a full medical staff, including physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists. Activities include arts and crafts, outdoor activities, and nature explorations.

Asthma Camp Lewes will be July 14-18 at St. Jude the Apostle Church.

Asthma Camp Wilmington will be June 23-27 at United Cerebral Palsy Center, Wilmington DE.

Autism / Aspergers Spectrum Disorders

Easter Seals Camp Fairlee Manor

Camp Fairlee Manor offers camp sessions dedicated to children ages 6-21 who are on the Autism Spectrum. Campers can safely enjoy canoeing, swimming, high ropes course, rock wall climbing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and so much more. The Camp includes one-to-one counselor to camper ratio, is staffed with a nurse 24/7, and includes a sensory room. Check the Camp Fairlee Manor website for Autism summer camp dates.

The Explorer’s Club Summer Camp

The Explorer’s Club Summer Camp is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 15 with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, and behavioral challenges. Behavior analysts and occupational therapists engage children in activities including arts and crafts, water play, horseback riding, yoga, music, cooking and more.

Four sessions will be offered in 2014: July 30-August 3, August 6-10, August 13-17 and August 20-24. Camp will be held at Westfield Friends School, Cinnaminson NJ.

Diabetes

Camp Possibilities

Camp Possibilities is a camp for children with diabetes between ages 8-15. Campers can experience swimming, fishing, arts and crafts, sports and other activities in a safe environment.

Camp Possibilities will be July 27 – August 1 at Camp Ramblewood, Darlington, MD.

Camp Victory

Keystone Diabetic Kids Camp’s Camp Victory is dedicated to providing a camp experience for children who live with chronic health problems, physical or mental disabilities, or the aftermath of catastrophic illness. Camp Victory is located in Millville PA.

KDKC is now accepting applications for it’s June 15-20 camp for Children with Type 1 Diabetes, ages 8-15. Click here for camp application forms.

camp victory

Kamp for Kids

Kamp For Kids: Diabetes and You is for children ages 4-14 with diabetes and their siblings and friends. The camp’s goal is to assist campers to better understand diabetes and to live a healthy life. Campers will learn about health and wellness through fun and exciting activities.

Kamp for Kids will be July 21-25 at the University of Delaware’s Newark campus.

Down Syndrome

Camp PALS Philadelphia

Camp PALS Philadelphia is for young adults with Down syndrome between the ages of 12-18. Each camper is paired with a counselor with whom they will room and travel with throughout the week. Camp will focus on fostering independence in all campers,

Camp PALS Philadelphia will be June 22 – 28 at Cabrini College, Radnor PA.

Down Syndrome summer camps

Hearing Impaired

Deaf Camps Inc.

Deaf Camps Inc provide fun, safe communication-rich camps for deaf and hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language, between the ages of 7 and 19.

Deaf Camp 2014 and ASL Camp 2014 will be August 3 – 8 at Manidokan Camping and Retreat Center, Knoxville, MD.

Speech and Language

Speech Clinic Camp

The Speech Clinic Summer Camp is for children ages 3-5 who have been diagnosed with or are suspected to have speech-language or social/pragmatic language needs.

Camps run from Tuesday, June 17 through Thursday, July 31st in Hockessin DE.

Spina Bifida

Camp Spifida

Camp Spifida offers exciting activities for children ages 6 to 18 who have spina bifida. Campers will enjoy crafts, fishing, swimming, dancing, paddleboats, campfires, hayrides, woodworking, a challenge course, and a 26 foot high climbing wall. Camp is fully staffed with medical personnel throughout the week.

Camp Spifida will be July 20 – 25 at Camp Victory, Millville PA.

spina bifida summer camps

Visually Impaired

Camp SunnyBrook

Camp SunnyBrook for The Blind is a six-week long summer day camp for blind and visually impaired children living in either New Castle or Kent Counties. Campers will experience swimming, arts and crafts, nature programs, music, field trips and more. All activities are adapted for blind and visually impaired children.

Contact Delaware Association for the Blind for 2014 camp dates.

Summer Camps Outside the Delaware Area

There are many summer camps offered through out the area and across the country. Check the National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities page, Camps for Children With Special Needs, for other camps not mentioned here, or for camps in other geographic locations.

summer camps for kids with special needs

Do you know of a summer camp that accommodates children with specialized needs that isn’t listed here? Please share it with us.

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This post is Part 2 of a three part Summer Camps series:

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The Delaware Family Voices website includes links to other Internet and third party resources. These third party resources are for your consideration only. Their products and services are not intended to be considered an endorsement by Delaware Family Voices. 

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.


2014 Summer Camps for Children With Special Needs – Part 1

February 26, 2014

This is Part 1 of a three part Summer Camps series.

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Finding just the right camp for a child with special needs can present a challenge. Parents of special needs children often have additional questions and concerns that need to be addressed before sending their child to camp. Questions like: Will the camp meet my child’s special needs? Will my child thrive while at camp? Are the camp counselors trained for my child’s special needs?

de summer camps

Delaware Summer Camps For Special Needs

We at Delaware Family Voices understand how important it is to find just the right summer camp for your special needs child. Listed here are camps in the Delaware area that can accommodate children with special needs.

Easter Seals Camp Fairlee Manor

Camp Fairlee Manor offers multiple programs for children and adults with physical disabilities and / or cognitive impairments as well as special weeks for children with Autism spectrum disorders. Located near Chestertown, Maryland, Camp Fairlee Manor is a fully accessible setting, ensuring children have full access to camp activities and programs.

Weekly Summer Camp: Camp activities include arts and crafts, sports, games, nature walks, swimming, fishing, ropes courses and canoeing.

Respite Weekends: A weekend-based year-round camp for children and adults with the most involved physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral disabilities, including medically-fragile individuals. Camp attendees total less than those attending the residential camp in order to meet extensive personal needs.

Residential Summer Camp: A traditional residential summer camp from June through August. Activities include swimming, wall climbing, zip line, horseback riding, outdoor games, arts and crafts, and more. Most sessions are six days in length, Sunday to Friday, and participants are grouped by age, with sessions for children from 6-21, as well as adults. Several sessions are dedicated to children with Autism.

Travel Trips: Trips designed to be accessible for people with disabilities. Travel Trips are offered during summer and respite weekends. Previous Travel Trips included New York City, Las Vegas, Nashville and Disneyworld. Participants much be 18 years or older.

Daily Adventures: Offered during the summer programs. Activities include field trips to nearby places including the shore, state parks and zoos, as well as nearby cities like Washington DC, Annapolis and Baltimore. The Youth Daily Adventure is for children ages 13-21.

Refer to the Easter Seals Camp Fairlee Manor website for the latest camp dates and activities.

Camp Lee Mar

Camp Lee Mar is an overnight camp for children with mild to moderate learning and developmental challenges. Campers can participate in traditional summer camp activities in a structured environment. The camp also offers speech and language therapy, adaptive athletic program, vocational training and therapeutic horseback riding. Camp runs from June 25 to August 12, and is located in Lackawaxin, PA. Financial assistance might be available.

Camp Leemar

Camps Lenape And Manito

Run by the United Cerebral Palsey of Delaware, Camps Lenape and Manito are open to children and young adults (ages 3-21) with orthopedic disabilities as well as children without disabilities. Both campsites have paved walkways for easy access by wheelchair as well as a swimming pool with an accessible in-pool ramp. Through traditional camp activities like swimming, arts and crafts, music, nature and sports, camp counselors promote independence and self-esteem, helping to build self-confidence in campers with disabilities.

The 2014 Camp Manito dates are from June 30 to August 8th. A smaller program for students of the John G. Leach School will be August 11-15th.

The 2014 Camp Lenape dates are June 30 to August 8th.

Find additional Camp information and Camp application forms at UCP Summer Camps.

Camp Sequoia

Camp Sequoia is an overnight summer camp for boys ages 8-17 who need help developing their social skills. The camp’s innovative program integrates Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking framework to help campers build their social thinking skills through an active, traditional camp program. Most campers are diagnosed with ADHD. Campers also include boys with social anxiety, learning differences which affect social skills development, as well as boys who may not have a formal diagnosis yet present with social learning needs.

Camp Sequoia fills an unmet need in the overnight camp market for children and teenagers who do not need the level of support offered at special needs overnight camps, yet need more than a what traditional overnight camp can offer.

Camp Sequoia is located at The Perkioman School, Pennsburg PA, and runs from June 29 – August 9th.

Camp Victory

Camp Victory is dedicated to providing a camp experience for children who live with chronic health problems, physical or mental disabilities, or the aftermath of catastrophic illness. Children attending Camp Victory have many and diverse special needs, including complex medical treatments. Camp Victory is planned and built to support all such needs. Check the Camp Calendar for the different types of camps offered. Camp Victory is located in Millville PA.

Children’s Beach House Summer Camps

Located on the Delaware Bay, Children’s Beach House Summer Camps provide a unique experience for children with special needs. Campers’ activities include swimming, sailing, kayaking, arts and crafts, nature, and more. Camp staff modifies activities to encourage all campers to participate at some level of success, thereby building self-confidence. Contact the organization for exact camp dates.

Delaware Summer Beach Camps

DragonFly Forest Summer Camps

DragonFly Forest Summer Camps provide an overnight camping experience for children with Autism and complex medical needs. Campers enjoy a wide variety of camp activities in an environment that is safe and equipped to meet a variety of physical, medical and psychological needs. Sessions include Autism, Chromosome 22q11.2 Deletion, Respiratory and Asthma, and Sickle Cell Disease. DragonFly Forest summer camps are located in Phoenixville PA, and most programs are free.

Check Dragonfly Forest Summer Camp for specific dates and camp details. All summer camps are now open for enrollment.

Mary Campbell Center Summer Camps

The Mary Campbell Center offers two week camp sessions from June to August for children with special needs between the ages of 3-21 and their siblings. Activities include field trips, swimming, games, arts and crafts, and cooking. Teamwork is stressed throughout every activity. All camps are at the Mary Campbell Center in Wilmington DE.

Summer Camps at Mary Campbell Center

Traditional Summer Camp Programs

Traditional summer camp programs such as the Boys & Girls clubs, YMCA, local county/city recreational programs, and boy/girl scout camps may also be able to accommodate children with certain special needs. These programs might be an opportunity for social inclusion for your special needs child. Thoroughly discuss your child’s special needs as well as your expectations of the camp before you commit to help ensure your child has the best overall possible camp experience.

Summer Camps Outside the Delaware Area

There are many summer camps offered through out the area and across the country. Check the National Dissemination Center for Children With Disabilities page, Camps for Children With Special Needs, for other camps not mentioned here, or for camps in other geographic locations.

camps in delaware

Do you know of a summer camp that accommodates children with special needs that isn’t listed here? Please share it with us.

Also check the Summer Camps page of the Delaware Family Voices website for additional summer camp possibilities.

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Don’t miss the other two blogs in the Summer Camp Series:

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The Delaware Family Voices website includes links to other Internet and third party resources. These third party resources are for your consideration only. Their products and services are not intended to be considered an endorsement by Delaware Family Voices. 

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.


Volunteers Needed at Delaware Family Voices!

February 12, 2014

Looking for a meaningful way to give back? Have a few hours you could spare? Consider helping Delaware Family Voices on our upcoming Volunteer Day.

Volunteer Day at Delaware Family Voices

Thursday February 20th is Volunteer Day at Delaware Family Voices. Join others at our Wilmington office for a day of helping our organization. We are in need of volunteers to help with administrative tasks, including organizing resource cabinets and update materials. Hours are flexible between 10:00am to 3:00pm.

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Volunteers are also needed to help deliver resource materials across Delaware. Light refreshments will be provided.

Please contact Erica at (302) 669-3033 if you are interested in helping out on Volunteer Day.

Interested in volunteering with Delaware Family Voices but February 20th doesn’t work for you? Let us know. We anticipate several other special events over the next few weeks for which we will need volunteers to assist us.

We look forward to seeing you!


Medicaid Managed Care and Mental Health 2014 Call Schedule

February 3, 2014

Do you have questions or concerns regarding your Delaware Medicaid Managed Care or Mental Health Care organization? Consider joining Delaware Family Voices, other families, and a wide variety of Delaware health care professionals in our monthly Medicaid Managed Care and Mental Health conference calls.

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These parent run conversations provide you the opportunity to ask questions, air grievances, or simply listen and learn. Our non-adversarial discussions are designed to help resolve your medicaid health care and mental health questions and concerns

The 2014 Medicaid Call Schedule

Calls are held the second Tuesday of each month from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, EST, with the focus rotating monthly between Medicaid Managed Care and Mental Health coverage.

Medicaid Managed Care Call Schedule

Medicaid Managed Care calls address questions and concerns of families of children and youth with special health care needs who receive Medicaid Managed Care benefits. Families and representatives from Medicaid, Delaware Physicians Care Inc., United Healthcare and other agencies participate in these calls. The 2014 call dates are:

February 11th
April 8th
June 10th
August 12th
October 14th
December 9th

Medicaid Mental Health Care Call Schedule

Medicaid Mental Health calls address questions and concerns of families with children and youth who have mental health and behavioral/emotional needs. Families and representatives from the Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services, Disability Law, Medicaid, Delaware Physicians Care Inc., United Healthcare and other agencies participate in these calls. The 2014 call dates are:

March 11th
May 13th
July 8th
September 9th
November 11th

Note: Do you have specific Medicaid questions, concerns or issues that you would like addressed during a call? If possible, please email Delaware Family Voices prior to the call. It will help us be better prepared to help you as well as ensure we have the necessary professionals available during that month’s call. Please place either ‘Medicaid Managed Care’ OR ‘Children’s Mental Health’ in the subject line of your email.

NOTE: Monthly calls are focused on either Medicaid Managed Care or Mental Health coverage, however you can ask your Medicaid question regardless of the monthly call focus.

How To Participate In a Call

Mental Health Panel Calls

All calls begin at 11:00 am EST and last until 1:00 pm. Calls may end earlier if all questions are answered.

To join a call, follow these dial-in instructions.

Dial 1-800-391-2548
Enter Participant Code: 53192759#

You should now be connected into the call.

For additional information, instructions on how to participate, or to be added to the call reminder list, contact Ann Phillips at annp@defv.orgor refer to the Medicaid Managed Care / Mental Health Calls Flyer.

Need Help Now?

Call us! You don’t need to wait for the Medicaid calls to voice your concerns or ask for assistance. Families are encouraged to call Delaware Family Voices whenever they have medical or mental health questions or concerns. Please call 302-669-3030 for immediate assistance.

Delaware Family Voices

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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QuestionBox image via JaredCherup at Flicker.

Delaware Family Voices Employment Opportunity

January 13, 2014

Are you the parent or guardian of a child with special needs? Are you searching for meaningful employment? Would you like a job where your experience with children with special needs brings benefit to others?

Delaware Family Voice

If so, then consider joining Delaware Family Voices.

Delaware Family Voices Is Hiring!

We are currently seeking to fill the following position:

Project Administrator

The Project Administrator position is part time with the hours determined at time of hire. The person who will best fit this job is someone who can manage multiple deadlines, meet assigned program goals and support office operations. This person will also need to be comfortable working and interacting on a daily basis with staff members as well as providers and families of children with disabilities.

Learn more about the Project Administrator position as well as how to apply for the position in the attached Project Administrator Job Description.

NOTE: Applicants for the Project Administrator position must be the parent or guardian of a child with special health care needs.

How To Apply For A Position

Interested in joining Delaware Family Voices? Please send your resume along with a cover letter and two letters of recommendations to Ann Phillips via email at annp@defv.org or via mail to the Delaware Family Voices office, 222 Philadelphia Pike, Suite 11, Wilmington DE 19809.

Note: Please provide a brief detail about your connection with a child with special needs in your cover letter.

Note: No phone calls please.

We look forward to meeting you!

Families with disabilities

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Delaware Family Voices is a 501 C3 Non-profit organization. Consider Donating to our organization and help support Delaware families in need.

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