World Autism Awareness Day was celebrated on Saturday, April 2. This was especially meaningful this year as one of the Sociology & Social Work Department’s partner organizations, the Zhengzhou Jiefu Mutual Aid Center for Parents with Exceptional Children (Jeifu), was featured in China Daily, the largest English language news outlet in China, with an average daily circulation of over 200,000. 

Jiefu is a Chinese domestic nongovernmental organization that works closely with families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to improve children’s developmental outcomes, strengthen family support systems, and to advocate for more access to community-based services and opportunities, such as inclusive K-12 education.

Jiefu is at the front edge of the development of non-institutional services for people with disabilities in China. Jiefu was started in late 2009 in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, through the work of its Executive Director, Xu Bing. Ms. Xu began with an initial group of 12 parents of children with disabilities with whom she developed an effective peer support network.

Presently, Jiefu serves more than a thousand families across the province and has been engaged in raising awareness of disabilities and program development in a number of cities. Hope College faculty and students have been working with Jiefu since 2009 on a number of initiatives. In 2017, Dennis Feaster and four Hope College social work majors worked with Jiefu in Zhengzhou, Henan, PRC, on a variety of professional training and capacity building projects as part of the ASIANetwork’s Student-Faculty Fellows program. Dr. Feaster continues to work closely with Jiefu staff and families in developing professional social work capacity.

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