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Family Resource LiaisonFamily Advocate | Informal ResourcesCommunity Resources

Who is the Family Resource Liaison? 

The Family Resource Liaison works in collaboration with La Crosse County Human Services.  The FRL is an individual who contacts families after a Children with Special Needs referral has been made.  Any family who has a child with a special needs may make a Children with Special Needs referral.  There is no fee for FRL support.

The Family Resource Liaison works to engage children with special needs and their families to community support based on the strengths and needs identified by the family.  The goal is to strengthen the family by working with families/children to build a community support network.  This is accomplished by enhancing their ability to identify and access community resources to meet their self-identified needs.

All families who have made a Children with Special Needs referral have access to the Family Resource Liaison to provide them with the assistance necessary to meet their needs.

How to Make a Referral


A Family Advocate is available in the community free of charge through Wisconsin Family Ties (WFT).  WFT is a statewide not-for-profit organization run by families for families.  Their mission is to provide greater understanding, acceptance, and support in the community for families who have children with special needs.

Wisconsin Family Ties has a number of highly trained Family Advocates located throughout the state and all are parents of children with special needs.  Family Advocates team up with individual families and the professionals working with them to help guide them through the steps they may need to take – without judgment because they’ve been there too. Whether it’s working with schools, child welfare, mental health services, developmental or physical disabilities or the juvenile justice system, the family advocate can help families clarify their options and access supports for their children. 

WFT has expanded in the La Crosse area by employing a new Family Advocate, Vicky Shanley, to specifically work with families in La Crosse County, regardless of their child’s abilities.  Vicky is extremely skilled at researching resources for families pertaining to most any difference and form of support.  She will be working with families who have children with special needs.  She will also be working to expand family networking opportunities and to increase family involvement in decision making processes at the County level.  Vicky brings with her the unique parent perspective, being the proud mother of 3 sons, two with Autism.  She also brings with her excellent communication skills and empathy for families. 

Contact Information:

Vicky Shanley
Family Advocate
La Crosse County


Wisconsin Family Ties, Inc
16 N. Carroll Street, Suite 640
Madison, WI 53703
Toll Free: 800-422-7145
Family Advocate Referral Form

To get more information on WFT and Family Advocates go to the following website:  www.wifamilyties.org


Have You Considered Utilizing Informal Resources?

  • Do you have friends or family in the area?

  • Does your family have spiritual connections and/or attend church or desire to?

  • Do you live in a neighborhood with supportive people?

  • Does your child attend school? (teachers, aides, principals, liaison officers, and social workers are great supports)

  • Do you feel comfortable accessing these individuals for ideas and/or ongoing resources? 


  Food/Nutrition | Medical/Financial | ParentingTreatment Transportation | Vocational Recreational | Support and Parent Groups | State/National Resources

  • WAFER: 403 Causeway Blvd, La Crosse.  (608)782-6003.  Hours of operation Monday – Friday 10 am – 12:45 pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:00 pm – 7:45 pm
  • Onalaska/Holmen Food Basket:  For residents of Onalaska, Holmen, French Island, Brice Prairie, and Mindoro.  735 Sand Lake Rd., Onalaska.  (608)783-7722.
  • West Salem Area Community Care & Share Pantry:  For residents of West Salem, Bangor, Mindoro, Melrose, Barre Mills, and Rockland. 359 N. Leonard St., West Salem.  (608)786-1142.
  • Self Help and Resource Exchange of Wisconsin (SHARE):  Anyone qualifies for service.  Participants receive opportunity to purchase high quality food in return for volunteer service in the community.  Pay $17.10 for approximately $30-40 of groceries.  1932 Ward Avenue, La Crosse.(608)788-1924.
  • Salvation Army:  Food distributed on a scheduled point system once per month or more per family or individual.  Must be 150% poverty.  Must be a La Crosse resident.  Also serves free meals daily at 12:00pm and 4:30pm; Tuesday evenings for shelter residents only.  223 North 8th St., La Crosse.  (608)782-6126.
  • La Crosse Christian Church:  Provides emergency food at no cost.  535 S. 16th St., La Crosse.  (608)782-3888.
  • First Evangelical Free Church Food Pantry:  Provides non-perishable emergency food at no cost.  Call to make an appointment.  1950 State Road 35, Onalaska.  (608)536-2347.
  • Place of Grace:  Meals served Thursday evenings 4:30-7:00pm and Sunday 2:00-4:00pm.  919 Hood St., La Crosse.  (608)782-6224.
  • Come for Supper:  Meals every Tuesday at 5:00pm.  Everyone is welcome. Our Savior's Lutheran Church. 612 Division St., La Crosse. (608)782-3468.
  • Monday's Meals:  Free meal program every Monday at 5:00pm.  Everyone is welcome.  St. Luke's Methodist Church.  1022 Caledonia St., La Crosse.  (608)782-6421.
  • Kane Street Community Garden:  Every Monday and Thursday during the harvest season (June-September), volunteers can come between 3:00 and 5:00 and help in the garden.  Produce is distributed from 5:15-6:00pm on these days.  Corner of King and Hagar (North side).         (608)793-1002.
  • La Crosse Area Hmong Mutual Assistance Association, Inc.:  Provides emergency food vouchers and information about other community resources at no cost.  Targeted toward the Southeast Asian Community.  2613 George St., La Crosse.  (608)781-5744.
  • Coulee Region Food Distribution Program:  Donation of $12, but no one turned away due to lack of funds.  Distributes mostly fresh produce and breads, muffins, bagels, and more.  Cathedral of Praise Church.  2240 S. Kinney Coulee Rd., Onalaska.  (608)783-2909.

  • La Crosse Area Farmers Markets 2009 Schedule


  • MA transportation:  Call Joanne Dierkop at (608)785-5707.
  • CTS Taxi:  Provides wheelchair accessible transportation.                (608)784-7700.
  • Caring Hearts Homecare and Transportation:  Safe, punctual transportation service for all transportation needs including medical appointments and social needs.  (608)782-2464.


2009 Summer Camps and Activities:


Support and Parent Groups

  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Children of the Heart:  A group of parents and families of children with Down Syndrome meet quarterly for a Spring Birthday Party, Summer Picnic, Fall Festival and a Christmas Celebration.  Parents meet additional times throughout the year on an informal basis.  Children of the Heart sponsors the annual Buddy Walk in October, periodic trainings, and distributes a quarterly newsletter.  If you are interested in joining or getting additional information contact Carrie Herrmann at (608)781-6778.
  • D.A.D.s:  Dads Assisting Dads of special needs children is a group of fathers who periodically get together for support.  For information on upcoming meetings contact Mike Hager at (608)784-4657 or Dan Vogelsberg at (608)788-2139.
  • Mom’s Group:  Support group for parents of children with special needs gets together for monthly social and support meetings.  Contact Vicki Fruit at (608)781-9750 for additional information.
  • LARC: La Crosse Association for Responsible Citizens is a long standing group of parents of children with developmental disabilities.  Contact Jane Barnas at (608)782-4799 for additional information.
  • MUMS National Parent to Parent Network:  Assists in forming parent support groups statewide for families with children with any physical, mental or emotional disorders.  Contact 1-877-336-5333.
  • Parent and Caregiver Group:  A group for parents and caregivers of children with physical impairments, mobility challenges, gross motor delays and diagnosed disabilities.  Contact Jeff and Mindy Reinardy at (507)454-7501 for additional information.
  • La Crosse Area Asperger Support Group:  The purpose is to provide direct instruction in social interaction and pragmatic skills, provide planned and organized social activities, provide an accommodating environment for individuals with AS to experience successful social interactions and to facilitate possible friendships.  Meets 2 Thursdays a month at Catholic Charities in La Crosse from 5:00-7:00pm for children ages 10-15.  There is a fee of $28/hr plus occasional fees for planned activities.  Facilitators are Diane Hietpas, MSE and Keith Braunreiter, BS.  Call (608)782-0710.
  • Support Group for Friends and Family of People with Down Syndrome:  Offers a time to provide support and fellowship, share experiences and discuss topics of interest.  Serves those in La Crosse County and surrounding areas.  Contact Richard/Teresa Hulse at      (608)783-7777 daytime or evening hours or Jason/Carrie Herrmann at (608)781-6778 before 9pm.

  • Survivors of Suicide:  Informal meetings for people who have lost someone to suicide.  Meets at 7-9pm every 3rd Wednesday of the month at Holy Trinity Church (1315 South Park St., La Crosse).  No religious affiliation, fees, or attendance requirements.  For more information call Nancy at 769-5007 or email Mary at marystoy@gmail.com.

State/National Resources


 La Crosse County, Wisconsin

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