Dear Support Volunteer Candidate,
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Support Volunteer for the Kawasaki Disease Foundation. Support Volunteers are the backbone of our program and were grateful to you for considering KDF Bridges matching as a way of supporting other families of children who have been diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease.
Support Volunteers are required to undergo screening and participate in our training program before they can be linked with other families. However, it is difficult for some candidates to attend the training in person. We have arranged for those family members to have their screening and training done through the Internet and/or mail. See the Recruitment Policy for more information.
To start the training, set aside some quiet time to do the exercises that are included in this training session. Youll be returning the written exercises and some of the forms to Karin (on-line or regular mail). Handwriting and spelling dont count, but thoughtfulness does!
You will find outlines of the KDF Bridges' policies (our rules), process (what happens during a match) and recruitment requirements (more rules!). Being a Support Volunteer is a job that requires empathy and a commitment to listening to other families, not acting on their behalf. Most people possess the empathy but some have a difficult time with the passive role Support Volunteers must take. In the event that your specific skills dont meet the requirements, we will decline your request to join the program. This is a private decision, which will remain between us. Your childs medical team will not be informed. If we decline your participation, you will have an opportunity to discuss my reason for this decision but it is final.
Moving on with the training, you will find the form you use for notes and basic information. It is called the Referred Parent In-Take form. You arent required to send these to us. It is simply a tool to help you stay organized. Aspects of confidentiality will be covered a little later in the training. The final form is the Support Volunteer Information Form (link at end of training). Please fill this out with as much detail as you can. It helps us match new parents with Support Volunteers who have as much in common with them as possible. Dont feel pressured to fill in anything you dont want to be matched around. We only want the information you're comfortable talking to other families about.
Travelling Back in Time
Next, begin the written exercise called Travelling Back In Time. It shouldn't take long to answer the questions, but do take some time first to think about your responses. The purpose of this exercise is to remind you of what a new parent might be feeling when you talk to them. Everyone's answers to these questions are different but try to think about what you found helpful (or unhelpful!) and keep that information in mind when talking to the new parent. Sometimes, when candidates do this exercise, they realize that they are not yet ready to be a Support Volunteer. If you find this, please let us know.
Now, read Common Bonds: The Experience of Parenting a Child with Special Health Care Needs. This section deals with some common descriptions of parents responses to the presence of special needs in their families lives. Note especially that most people dont experience every reaction described, but all are normal. Whatever you personally have experienced, remember to be respectful of what other parents describe. One of the most important things Support Volunteers can give to other families is a safe environment in which to express themselves without feeling that they are being judged or that they are different. Support Volunteers don't give specific medical information; that should come from the clinical providers involved in a families care. What we give is emotional support and an opportunity for new families to recognize that they are part of a caring community. If you have questions about this, please call us. Now, a word about confidentiality. One of the common initial reactions described by parents of children with special health care needs is a feeling of isolation. But there is a vibrant and sometimes overlapping community of parents of children with special health care needs that we are a part of. We get to know one another at Special Education Advisory Committees, Easter Seals groups, camp and the local playground. Whether you have a match request from a neighbor, a friends relative or a complete stranger the fact of the request and the content of it is confidential. You can (and should!) tell people about KDF Bridges but never disclose that you spoke to a specific family or chat with anyone about what you talked about. The trust a Support Volunteer and his or her referred family member develop is vital to the success of the match. A referred parent will not get the support they need if they are worried about their privacy being compromised. Reassure referred parents that you will not discuss your conversation except with us, and then only under the specific circumstances detailed in the policy.
Next, read Telephone Tips. These are specific, practical suggestions that should help you when making your calls to new parents. If you are connecting with your referred parent via e-mail, many of the suggestions apply.
Move on to the Training Evaluation. Unfortunately, participating in online training only means you will miss the discussion offered during the in-class training, but it's still important for us to hear your opinion on the training.
Volunteer Information Form
We're near the end of the Support Volunteer training. Complete your written exercises and submit the Support Volunteer Form. They are part of the screening process and we can't accept you into the program until weve seen them, so don't delay.
In closing, the last piece you'll find in the training packet is Welcome to Holland. Many of you know this parable and have lived in Holland for quite some time.
We would like to thank you for volunteering to share your experiences on behalf of the Kawasaki Disease Foundation and the future families you will help on their journey.