It Starts with Families


We believe that families are an important asset in the equation of ensuring people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives. And, we know when families have access to information and resources, they are more empowered to support and care for the family member with disabilities.

Did you know?

  • Approximately 119,000 or 65% of Ohioans with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) live with their families? And in most cases, the support provided does not end when the family member turns 18.
  • Over 58% of parents/caregivers spend more than 40 hours per week providing support to their loved one with I/DD beyond typical care.
  • 52% of families caring for children with disabilities experience difficulty paying medical bills.

Across agencies and across the lifespan

Extensive research on people with disabilities and their families recognizes that supports are most effective when provided to the family so they have the capacity and knowledge to provide assistance. Strategies to support the family unit must be a fundamental consideration across all agencies, at all levels of each agency, and in all aspects of planning.

As partner agencies and organizations that support people with disabilities, you play an important role in helping to build families’ confidence and encourage a vision for the possibilities and opportunities for the whole family. To do this, we must connect families to important information, research, and resources and support effective family engagement strategies.

About this guide

The Ohio Employment First Taskforce and its member agencies are developing a cross-agency professional learning experience designed for local professionals working to prepare, involve, and empower families of students with disabilities as they transition from secondary education to adulthood.

To help you get started before the training in spring 2022, we want to share It Starts With Families, a guide designed to support local professionals serving individuals and their families to become familiar with the research around family engagement and understanding their unique needs.

Ultimately, the guide and training are designed to support local professionals serving individuals and their families to:

  • become familiar with the research around families,
  • learn how to better design family engagement strategies to reach all families, and
  • build trust, rapport, and successful partnerships with families through culturally responsive practices.

We hope that this guide helps you to commit to Ohio’s mission of developing and implementing universally designed approaches that will ensure all families have the necessary knowledge and skills regarding transition education and services and are involved in all aspects of transition planning.

To learn more about the professional learning opportunity, contact ItStartsWithFamilies@dodd.ohio.gov.