Foundations of Family Support

Applied Community Studies
Disability & Community Studies
Course Code
DACS 1280
Semester Length
2 to 15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This introductory course will emphasize the theories and principles of family support, with a focus on person centred practices used to enhance wellbeing and quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Students will examine the interdependence between family and community, and the unique role practitioners play in strengthening relationships and facilitating formal and informal social networks.
Course Content

The following global ideas guide the design and delivery of this course:

  1. Families are unique within a historical and sociocultural context. Understanding how to provide culturally responsive and respectful supports are essential to practice.
  2. Diversity exists between families and between individuals within the family; it is essential that practitioners are aware of how their own values, beliefs and attitudes affect practice.
  3. The presence of disability within the family unit can impact family members differently, i.e. parents, siblings, extended family. Understanding unique stressors and possible reactions to that stress is essential to practice.
  4. Parents with a child with a disability share common experiences and responses in their interactions within and between services provided across the lifespan. A strengths-based and asset-based perspective is critical in responding to families' unique needs, i.e. parenting demands, developmental transitions, and transitions between services
  5. Employing family centred and person centred approaches is fundamental to family empowerment and individual self-determination. The ability to support family and the individual choices, while potentially balancing competing priorities during transitions is central to the practitioner's role and responsibilities.
  6. Developing and maintaining positve and collaborative relationships between families and practitioners is essential to practice. Practitioners must be aware of guiding policy that influences this relationship.
  7. Practitioners must be able to differentiate between planning approaches used to support the family unit and the individual with a disability.
  8. Formal and informal community connections and relationships are essential to healthy family functioning. It is critical that practititioners understand how to identify and support these associations, i.e. circles of support, family support or mentoring groups, communities of practice/inquiry, virtual communities and other community groups.
Methods Of Instruction


  • Lecture
  • Guest speakers
  • Readings
  • Audio / Video presentations
  • Case studies
  • Group presentations


  • Mini-lectures
  • Readings
  • Audio / Video presentations
  • Case studies
  • Discussion forums/ blogs / Collaborate sessions
  • Group presentations
Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations. Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of:

  • Essay
  • Digital Story Telling
  • Quizzes
  • Planning analysis
  • Circle of support analysis
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

1. Describe the dynamic attributes of families that have a member with a disability

  • Consider historical and cultural conceptualizations of family support
  • Describe at least two different theoretical perspectives on the parental response of having a child with a disability, i.e. Chronic Sorrow, Grief and Loss, Gifts and Assets
  • Examine the roles and perspectives of family members living with a member who has autism and/or other disabilities through a systems perspective, including parent(s), siblings, grandparents, or other caregivers

2. Explore the relationship between individual development, family dynamics and the practitioner's role

  • Compare and contrast asset-based and service-based models of support and the impact these services and supports have on the family unit as they progress through the family life cycle, including issues facing aging parents
  • Describe components of positive parent/professional collaboration and communication strategies that promte healthy exchange and engagement, while understanding the limitations and boundaries of the practitioner's role
  • Describe the relationship between planning for particular supports and services in context of whole life planning, e.g. individualized education plans, behaviour support plans, communication plans, health care plans
  • Examine strategies which strengthen family functioning and resilience through family-centred and person centred planning approaches, e.g. Family Support Plans, and PATH

3. Examine the relationship between quality of life, family and community relationships

  • Consider the dynamics of friendships and support networks as key components in enhancing quality of life for individuals and their families
  • Explore models for strengthening friendships, and expanding community connections based upon person-centred thinking and Asset Based Community Development processes.
  • Examine strategies which empower individuals and their families through formal and informal associations in community (e.g. circles of support, family mentorship, sibling groups, virtual communities, etc)
Textbook Materials









Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV HSER 2XX (3) 2018/09/01 to -

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.