Introducing CTN’s Family Mentor Program

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Learn more about how you can get involved!

Based on an idea initiated by the Family Engagement Council, CTN received a three year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to create and manage a Family Mentor Program. This peer support program matches families who are in need of resources or support with a trained volunteer mentor with lived experience raising a child with special needs.  Studies show that peer support can help reduce anxiety and depression in parents of children who have children with disabilities, so we created a program model to respond to the needs of CTN families by connecting them to a trained mentor in their community who will inform them of relevant events, connect them with additional resources on our new online resource centre and provide them with emotional support.

The goal of the Family Mentor Program is to empower and strengthen families by providing resources, information and emotional support to help them through their journey. This peer support functions to complement, supplement and extend formal primary care services by offering the perspective of someone who has “been there”.  

Laura, Volunteer Family Mentor in York Region, understands and appreciates the need for mentoring between parents of special needs children:

“We can feel quite isolated from "typical" families and friends. To have someone to talk to who understands and just gets it (meaning every aspect of your life from physical, financial, and especially emotional) is priceless.  Having the support of someone who knows exactly how you feel and what you are going through helps you to feel not so alone anymore.”

Having just matched our first families, CTN offers this program as a complement the clinical team. Service providers can refer families through the shared record if they feel a family could benefit from speaking to a trained mentor. Families can also speak to their Single Plan of Care Coordinators, team members or call our service navigators (1-866-377-0286) to be matched with a trained mentor.

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Volunteer Mentors Wanted!
Are you looking to connect with other families, develop new skills and give back to the community? Volunteer mentors bring their valuable experience and expertise to the program while they build skills through formalized training and coaching. Here are some of the qualifications we are looking for in our mentors:

  • Passion to share your knowledge with others
  • Lived experience as a caregiver of a child with special needs
  • Working knowledge of network programs and services in addition to regional resources
  • Currently or previously accessed services through CTN
  • Experience offering advice and support to other families with a child who has special needs
  • Previous volunteer experience with CTN or partner agency is an asset
  • Expertise in a certain resource area is an asset (e.g. funding opportunities, Military, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), resources, medically fragile children, transitioning to adulthood, working with school teams, etc.)
  • Second language is an asset
If you’re interested in learning more about being a volunteer Family Mentor contact Heather Hamilton, Family Resource Program Coordinator at or complete this volunteer application