University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

What is a Family Navigator?

Family Navigators are staff members who are also the parent or primary caregiver of a child with special health care needs. They work with families to provide:

  • Emotional support
  • Systems navigation
  • Connections to community resources

What we do

Offer Emotional Support

  • Listen to concerns, frustrations, and fears
  • Celebrate successes
  • Help families build upon their strengths
  • Support the development of advocacy skills
  • Recognize and strengthen natural supports

Navigate Health, Educational, and Social Service Systems

  • Appointment and referral assistance
  • Attend meetings and appointments at family request
  • Assist with insurance, waiver, and other funding applications

Connect to Community Resources

  • Specialty and therapy providers
  • Assistive technologies
  • Camps
  • Childcare
  • Respite
  • Sibling activities
  • Support groups
  • Transportation

How We Help

Many families new to the world of special health care diagnoses, or going through new challenges, find that talking with another family member, someone who has "been there," helps. Family Navigators are parents or caregivers who have:

  • Had similar challenges
  • Felt the same feelings of grief, sadness, loss, and joy
  • Found ways to take care of themselves and their families

Family Navigators can help families lower their stress so they can manage their child's care a little more easily.

To contact a Family Navigator call 1-866-219-9119 or email