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Providing Technical Assistance to Families: A Guide for State Deaf-Blind Projects

Planning and Preparation

Determine TA Activities

Once you’ve identified the primary needs in your state, select those that are the most important to target first. Next, keeping your project’s capacity in mind, identify specific universal, targeted, and intensive TA activities that can meet those needs. Part 2 of this document provides a detailed description of potential activities at each level. Be realistic about what you can take on, especially in terms of intensive TA.

As you design and select activities, make sure they are relevant and responsive to culturally and linguistically diverse populations. There are many useful resources to help you accomplish this. See Cultural Competence Resources for more information.

Establish Referral Processes

A key area of expertise for state deaf-blind projects is knowing when and where to refer families to other services (e.g., social services, parent centers) to meet needs not specific to deaf-blindness. It’s helpful to keep a detailed list of organizations and agencies that can assist you in supporting families, as well as descriptions of exactly what they do and do not offer. This will help you feel confident that when you refer a family you know they will actually receive appropriate assistance. 

It’s also a good idea to have at least informal agreements with the agencies and organizations on your list so you know they are willing and able to assist the families you refer. Even better are written collaborative agreements or memorandums of understanding that define how you will work together to support families. See Working Together for Families for ideas on how to collaborate. It specifically describes partnerships between state projects and PTIs, but many of the suggested activities also apply to other types of partners.

Create an Annual Calendar and Action Plans

Create a yearly calendar for your staff of events and major dissemination activities (e.g., newsletters, bulk mailings) with the event/activity name, date, and staff member lead. 

Create individual action plans for each activity on the calendar. These will typically fall into the category of universal or targeted TA. Intensive TA requires a different type of action plan that can be directly shared with families receiving individualized support (this is discussed in Part 2 of this guide). 

The plan should include:

  • Activity name
  • Description
  • Target date
  • Type of TA (universal, targeted)
  • Expected number of families that will be reached
  • Desired outcomes
  • Desired outputs
  • How you will measure effectiveness
  • Action steps with timelines and individual(s) responsible
  • State or national partners (if any)
  • Follow-up tasks (if indicated) with timelines and individual(s) responsible

An annual calendar and action plans help you:

  • Create role clarity for project staff 
  • Define and plan your TA for families in a systematic way
  • Identify limitations in your project’s capacity
  • Identify the need for collaborative partners to help you carry out activities

Ideally, planning should include all staff members to take advantage of everyone’s roles and areas of expertise, ensure plans reflect a variety of viewpoints, and keep all staff members fully informed.