International surveys acknowledge parent to parent support as a high ranking source of support for families of deaf children. Connecting with other parents reduces the time for acceptance as parents of deaf children and allows for shared journeys, which in turn is empowering. The Parent Mentorship Program allows for a one-on-one “buddy” system where parents who have embraced their journey and who have a foundational unbiased approach can walk alongside new families during an early 6 month period of their journeys. Families entering the HI HOPES Early Intervention Programme are invited to have a Parent Mentor, which allows for very clear and specific differences between roles of parent “buddy” and trained interventionist to be defined.
Parent Mentors serve to be that person that parents can connect with to share their stresses and joys as someone who has walked that journey before, reducing the feeling of isolation as a parent of a child with a hearing loss. Parent Mentors meet regularly to discuss import values such as confidentiality, bias and topics such as “supporting the grieving parent”. As far as possible new parents are paired with Mentors who have similar backgrounds.
Parent mentorship is largely conducted via text message conversations, this breeches a distance barrier which is a reality in South Africa.