Family Road Map’s Mission: Empower family caregivers and young adults with the practical skills they need to get the best services by acting as full partners with providers in health and education systems.

In 2006, Wendy Besmann was a frantic mom trying to find services for a child with autism and bipolar disorder in a southern state with very few resources in fragmented health and education systems. (More about Wendy’s story.)

She began to notice patterns in her interactions with service providers–things such as miscommunication, breakdowns in the flow of information, failure to understand and respect each others’ roles and skills– that got in the way of getting good services. She talked to a lot of other parents, therapists, advocates, health professionals, educators, and other providers about this problem.

Finally (when life settled down just a bit), she sat down and wrote Team Up for Your Child, a 100-page guidebook full of practical charts, checklists and strategies for navigating systems.Out of that work came Team Up for Families (TUFF), a nationwide collaborative of peer trainers and advocates dedicated to the proposition that families and providers should work as equal partners. TUFF’s newest work, completed with a board of TUFF trainers, is Family Road Map, a systematic five-point approach that keeps families on track when navigating any system. (Learn More about TUFF)

In an urban Chicago parent workshop, Wendy Besmann talks about effective listening tactics for IEP meetings.