Lifetime Connections: Personal Network

Establishing a Personal Network is the first step.

What is a Personal Network?

A Personal Network is a group of people who are in relationship with an individual and are committed to helping that individual attain his or her dreams and life goals.

A Personal Network is the bridge between the individual and active inclusion in the community. Through the relationships formed between network members and the individual, the network can provide support, advocacy, and companionship. Networks are for children or adults.

What do Personal Networks Do?

Personal Networks can do many things and serve many roles based on what the individual wants and needs. Examples are:

  • Providing a sense of security and support for family members
  • Providing links to others in the community
  • Spending social time together
  • Dreaming and planning together
  • Securing and monitoring supports and services
  • Assisting with finding homes and roommates
  • Providing a forum for Network members to support one another

Who can be a member of a Personal Network?

Network members may be family members, friends, neighbors, and people from places of worship, service clubs, hobby clubs, sports teams, former service providers, and teachers - basically anyone who has an interest and commitment to the person the Network is formed around.

How does a Personal Network operate?

The Personal Network has a paid facilitator. The facilitator's job is to work with the individual to form the network and help it thrive over the years. The facilitator will look for people who have similar interests and values as the individual to be members of the network. Network members volunteer their time to come together regularly with the "focus person" of the network.

What qualifications does a Facilitator generally have?

It is important that the facilitator share values and interests with the focus person. Facilitators are skilled in helping to connect people with resources in the community such as other people, organizations, churches, or anything else that may be helpful. Facilitators see people's gifts and assets and help them make connections based on these.

How involved should parents be in their son's or daughter's Personal Network?

This is a decision based on individual situations. Often parents do attend network meetings at the beginning of the process and stop attending once things have solidified a bit. This will often encourage the individual to take on a greater degree of ownership of his or her Personal Network.

How long does it take to develop and maintain a Personal Network?

Developing a Personal Network takes time and patience. It takes time for relationships to develop between network members. The process can be slow and at times may seem as if nothing is happening. Believing and trusting in the process is the key to a successful Personal Network.

On average 40 hours of facilitation are required over 8 months to get started. Established networks average 3-4 hours facilitation time per month. Time for facilitating networks may vary based on several factors including:

  • How easy it is to get to know you and your relative
  • Connections you and your relative already have
  • What your relative currently does and wants to do
  • Changes in your relative's circumstances
  • Change among Network members
  • How much involvement families want the facilitator to have