South Sound Parent to Parent (SSP2P) respects the cultural diversity of families and children in our community. With intentions to meet people where they actually are, paying attention to the details of diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical. It makes programming available to a wider audience. Danielle Bryant is the SSP2P DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) coordinator and has been busy working with people within the agency and moving that culture outward to reflect in all the agency’s services.
South Sound Parent to Parent Promotes a Culture of Inclusivity and Deep Listening
“It’s definitely a large shift to make DEI a focus on every aspect,” says Danielle. There are on-going conversations throughout the company, setting a tone where people can ask about whatever they want or need to know. It takes time to cultivate a work environment where people are not fearful of asking questions or feel judged for their beliefs. “Being honest, open, transparent, and to have conversations in a safe environment is a huge effort,” she explains. Ultimately, a culture is created where people feel they have a voice that is heard.
With the number of staff at SSP2P reaching 70, it is easy to believe there are different minds, points of view and experiences. There is also a variety of positions, including early intervention staff and specialists, family resource coordinators, home visitors and all those who provide administration. Questions posed are things like: What is important? How do you see yourself? Are you valued? Do you feel heard and seen? Now there is greater dialogue among staff and meetings take place in small groups to allow for more individual input. Growing awareness takes time and dedication.
DEI Sensitivity in Family Programming Makes a Difference
“We want to make sure we are bringing equitable services to all families,” says Kim Smith, executive director. A good example is enrolling families around Shelton. “We have seen a shift in Latino family numbers, especially in Mason County,” reports Kim. In the past, enrollments were minimal. Adding Spanish-speaking staff was a critical element. Brochures were translated by a native speaker to capture verbal nuances. It’s hard to attract and retain families with deep Hispanic roots when the language is neither spoken nor written and taken without cultural context. What started as one family has grown to 58. SSP2P realized the importance of the way it presented itself to varied cultures. DEI sensitivity made a significant impact.
“Language is one sliver of the cultural diversity pie,” adds Kim. Other factors are religion, race, background and place. SSP2P is dedicated to the on-going process of asking questions, getting clear and moving forward with thought and respect.
Another example happened with a family from Senegal. The very young child in the family did not use utensils for eating. Is it a cultural practice or is the child delayed? It turns out, the family eats with their fingers. “Tests for adaptive skills of selfcare don’t allow for cultural differences,” notes Kim. That’s why DEI is important. “How do we nuance things? and “What have we not looked at before?” are questions the agency poses. “Staff are engaging more in conversations about what is best for a particular family,” she continues.
“It’s been eye opening,” comment both Kim and Danielle about the journey with staff and families. Being willing to listen, learn and change is a hallmark of South Sound Parent to Parent
Families with Special Needs Programs
South Sound Parent to Parent is a rich resource for families with a child or children with developmental delays, chronic illnesses or disabilities. With over 30 years of experience from parents and the professionals who work with them, SSP2P continues to listen and respond to needs to support the daily lives of families in our community. Day-to-day challenges are identified, and services are tailored to the needs of each family.
SSP2P keeps its focus on understanding the families and children it serves. Part of this is asking who is under-represented or underserved and then ask why. The agency has support groups for moms, dads and siblings who have a family member with a disability or special challenge. There are resources to talk with children about race, gender, disabilities and orientation. The early intervention program is active and strong for children from birth to three years of age. Taking actions early in life offers the best chance for positive outcomes in the future. You can find more information about all the programs on the South Sound Parent to Parent website.
“We are helping more families,” says Kim. The agency will continue to sharpen its skills around diversity, equity and inclusion.
South Sound Parent to Parent
2108 Caton Way SW, Olympia