ICAN of Northern Virginia started our first private Facebook group several years ago as an alternative for parents who were unable to attend meetings. In that time, we've grown to more than 350 members! We have worked hard to provide online support in an environment where parents feel safe sharing their experiences - both positive and negative - without fear of judgement or reprisal.
Unfortunately, there have been a few unrelated incidents recently where chapter leadership has had to step in to moderate member posts, remove members, and even remind all of our members that what is shared within the group is meant to stay there and should not be shared with outside parties. The larger our group grows, the more difficult moderation becomes, particularly since our leaders are also parents and volunteers.
These challenges are not unique to our chapter, and leaders at the national level have helped us and other chapters create policies that foster the support and inclusivity ICAN is known for while drawing clear lines between giving support and soliciting business.
While many chapters moved to ban birth workers from their online groups over the past few years, we have tried to keep our online community open. However, the increasing demand on leaders' time to monitor and remove posts, along with the desire to foster a truly supportive environment, has led us to reverse our decision and remove all birth workers who are not currently in need of support from ICAN or are not chapter volunteers.
We also recognize that some parents may not feel comfortable sharing their birth stories when their birth worker or colleague is present, and we want to respect and leave space for those who are truly in need of support.