Earl J. Brewer, Jr., M.D., and Tina Bentsen-Smith founded Family to Family Network (F2F) in 1986. Their original mission was to help parents connect with other parents and to learn how to navigate the medical system.
The group was inactive until 1993 when a group of parents of children with disabilities came together. They shared a vision that the future of their children would not be determined by a diagnosis. It was a vision where schools, professionals, and families worked together to build communities. A place where children with disabilities are included, valued, and encouraged to pursue their dreams.
F2F stays true to this vision today. For more than 20 years, F2F has helped families build relationships with schools. They also teach parents how to talk about their child’s needs. In doing so, they help families create a positive vision for their child’s future.
F2F believes that “if you teach a person to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.” Their “Connections” training does this for families. “Connections” is also the basis for Texas Project FIRST. This website provides accurate and consistent information on the special education process. Family to Family Network works with Texas Education Agency and Region 9 Education Service Center on the website. F2F also offers a free annual conference for parents and youth in the spring.
F2F holds many family events. Trips to see the Astros, theater productions, Lil Rustlers with Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, holiday parties, or the annual kite are examples of their events. They offer families a chance to relax and network with others. They are able to expand their circles of support.
F2F offers a newsletter each quarter and a monthly listing of local events in their E-Digest. Their Guided Transition Program helps youth with disabilities and their families become more involved in the transition planning process.
F2F believes early parent involvement is a key to success. Families can help their children become contributing members of our community when they have the knowledge and support they need.
From the moment Camila was born, I knew she would change my world. But it was not until third grade when she made the comment “I don’t want to live anymore” that I realized things were not right.