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Deaf Mentor Family Program

Deaf Mentor Family Program

Woman and little girl signing together at a classroom table

The Deaf Mentor Family Program (DMFP) is offered to families who have a Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) child. While the focus is on younger children, the DMFP is available to any child ages birth to 21. 

How It Works

  • Deaf Mentors use curriculum from the research-based SKI-HI Institute which supports, teaches, facilitates and models with families ways to promote communication and early language skills that best meet the needs of their DHH child. 
  • Deaf Mentors are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). They have an easy communication style with family members who hear and genuinely enjoy working with children. 
  • “Design Your Own Deaf Mentor Family Program” is offered to families with the intent to customize their learning plan as well as provide a flexible schedule. 
  • Families begin with Bravo!, an online video introductory course that leads to home visits. 
  • Visits occur where it is most convenient for families — at home or their preferred alternative location. This also provides a comfortable environment where children can learn best. 
  • During visits, families learn ASL and other communication techniques unique to DHH children. In this relaxed setting, family members are encouraged to ask questions about ASL, Deaf culture and daily life as a DHH individual.

Deaf Mentor Qualifications

  • Deaf Mentors have completed training using the SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Training Curriculum, offered by the SKI-HI Institute in Utah. 
  • Deaf Mentors have been chosen based on their fluency in ASL, ability to communicate easily with hearing families, comfort with young children and ability to support family decisions. 
  • Deaf Mentors also receive ongoing training to provide services in accordance with “A Plan for Mentorship of Minnesota Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children." 

Meet LSS’ Deaf Mentors

Other Services


The Snapshots service is for families with children newly identified as deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Snapshots is coordinated by medical professionals and DHH teachers with the DMFP. It introduces your child and family to individuals from the DHH community and their technology options. 
  • This service provides opportunities to address practical concerns in a less formal, more personal setting.


Empower! consists of eight, one-hour sessions focused on self-advocacy skills for deaf and hard of hearing youth (ages seven to 21).

  • Introduces your child and family to a role model who is DHH and uses similar communication modalities. 
  • Offers the opportunity to discuss topics such as peer friendships using technology, self-esteem, identity and thinking about the future.  

Apply or Contact with Questions

Emily Smith-Lundberg 
Deaf Mentor Family Program Manager 
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota 
709 University Avenue West 
Saint Paul, MN 55104




LSS’ Deaf Mentor Family Program is funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD).