Who's Who:  A Family Guide to Providers
What is Family Support?

In the context of NH's human services system, "family support" has at least three different meanings.  

First, it refers to a general approach to care -- one that puts the needs of the family as a whole at the center of all care-related decisions. Family support services respect the family's culture and choices. It is a strength-based approach, meaning that it builds on what the family already does well, instead of "fixing" what the family is perceived to be doing poorly. It seeks to empower family members by providing information and parent-to-parent counseling.   

In New Hampshire, "family support" also has a more specific history and meaning.  When NH was in the process of closing it's state institution for individuals with developmental disabilities, the Laconia State School, family caregivers asked the legislature to provide them with the tools they needed to successfully support their family members with a disability in the community -- and the right to help direct this new system of care.  "Nothing about us, without us," they argued.

Thanks to these advocates, the NH developmental services system was created in such a way that family members have an important and permanent place at the table.  Under the regulations that govern this system, each area agency must have a Family Support Council, which serves as an advisory body to the agency's management and its volunteer Board of Directors. Area agencies must also have family and consumer representation on their Board.

In addition, since family support legislation was signed into law in 1987, the NH legislature has appropriated funds specifically designated to help address the training, respite, and other needs of family caregivers who support someone eligible for developmental services. These funds can be used for respite, home modifications, personal care, adaptive recreation, and even short-term emergencies when other government assistance is not available. Family Support Funds are managed through the area agencies in collaboration with their Family Support Council. The amount allocated by the state legislature for family support has decreased over time. Nonetheless, it remains an important resource -- in some cases the only publicly funded resource -- for families that support someone who experiences ASD. Unfortunately, in FY'13, NH's Family Support funds will be reduced by $1.2 million dollars, increasing the budgetary pressure on this resource.

Direct Support Professional       
     (DSP) or Respite Providers

  • Respite childcare by a provider who under-stands the needs of your child and family
Who They Are
What They Do
Family Support Councils
  • Some access to special funds for emergencies
  • Assistance paying to attend the annual family support conference
  • A voice for families in decision making at the area agency level
  • Advocacy at the state level to protect funding & services
  • Networking opportunities -- eg. may sponsor recreational or educational family events
Family-to-Family support 
    and/or support groups
  • Help understanding the diagnosis
  • “Trouble shooting” as issues arise especially    during times of transition
  • Emotional support
Certified Autism Support
     Specialists (CAPS)
HOMEFamily PortalSystems of CareLearn the SignsTreatment  PlanningStaying on CourseTransition

To Learn More:


The NH Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
21 S. Fruit Street
Concord, NH  03301

Council HOMECouncil BROCHURENH Virtual Resource CtrCALENDAR of EventsASD in the News

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Area Agency Family Support 
  • Assists eligible families in accessing funds for respite, home modification, emergency needs, training, and other expenses related to supporting a family with a disability at home.
  • Collaborates with the agency's Family Support Counci

New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Putting the Pieces Together in the Granite State
Virtual Resource Center
Systems of Care, Family Support

  • Parent-to-parent volunteers who have received 40+ hours of additional training in topics related to autism spectrum disorders.
  • Prepared to provide information, referral, and emotional support