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Building Networks for Life

Facilitator Role

The facilitation of networks is the most significant service we provide at PLAN RI. It is the heart and soul of our work with families. The effective hiring and training of Facilitators is crucial to PLAN RI's existence.

  • Support people and their families to form core groups committed to advocacy and network building

  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with people, their families, network members and associates of Plan RI

Staff Meeting

Frequently Asked Questions About Facilitation


Who leads the network?

Acting on the wishes of a family members, a paid Facilitator functions as the leader of the personal support network. Under the mentoring of Personal Lifetime Advocacy Networks of Rhode Island (PLAN RI), s/he is responsible to:

  • Focus on the member and work with him/her to generate a vision for a full life as independent as possible in the community.

  • Generate and/or work from a written personal futures plan based on the vision of that person and his/her family members.

  • Invite family, friends, neighbors and other people with natural connections to the member to join the personal support network. If the number dwindles, seek out new people to replenish the circle of support.

  • Look for the gifts of all the network, starting with the member.

  • Organize the gatherings of the network on a regular basis, providing structure for and records of what transpires.

  • Seek out strategies to overcome obstacles to the fulfillment of the personal future plans.

  • Communicate with network members and encourage their individual connection with the member between meetings.

  • Report on all of these activities regularly to the coordinator of PLAN RI

Who makes a good Facilitator?


Facilitation is both an art and a science. There are specific protocols and tools a Facilitator must use to be effective in the science of facilitation. Facilitation also requires heart. This is where the art component of facilitation is necessary. Knowing when to do what, with whom, is what determines a great facilitator.

Our experience is that great Facilitators tend to be those individuals who are naturally community connectors. They naturally and easily build bridges between people. They are the people at parties and gatherings who introduce unfamiliar people to each other and ensure all people feel welcome and included. A formal education is not required to be an effective network facilitator.

What qualities does PLAN RI look for?


First and foremost, PLAN RI looks for individuals who share the members, the family's and PLAN RI's values. We hire people based on their compatibility with the individual for whom a network is to be established. All have a knack of inspiring others to see the gifts of the member. We look for people who are good listeners and who believe in the hospitality of their communities.

Listed below are ten qualities of effective facilitators:

  1. Strength based – see the glass half full

  2. Encouraging – reinforce network members specifically and often

  3. Diplomatic – submit ideas for consideration or ask thoughtful questions

  4. Connected to the community and willing to use those connections

  5. Fearless – willing to point out needs and ask others to help meet them

  6. Respectful – treats others as they would like to be treated

  7. Age appropriate – understand that mental age is a misnomer and model how to include the member in activities shared by others of his or her chronological age

  8. Pro-active – do not wait to respond to mistakes but anticipate and avoid them, whenever possible

  9. Committed over time – willing to remain with the same member for at least one year and recognizes the need for stability over the long run.

Facilitator Support


Facilitators are supported through the ongoing process of mentoring. Mentoring involves the coming together of our Facilitators on a regular basis to review their purpose, goals and strategies as well as to "refuel.” Facilitator meetings are an opportunity to encourage, brainstorm, inspire, support, coordinate and inform.

PLAN RI provides a coordinator/mentor who is a senior Facilitator of PLAN RI. S/he is responsible for the orientation and support of the Facilitators. This person contacts or accompanies the Facilitator on a regular basis to stay in touch and to provide encouragement. If a Facilitator has any questions, he or she is expected to call the coordinator immediately. In addition, for the first year following an application to PLAN RI, potential Facilitators observe an existing network. They may be matched to a member family to facilitate their network at any time deemed appropriate by the coordinator and one member of the board of directors during this initial year of voluntary service.

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