Our work focuses on these three broad areas:
We respond to families looking for support and answers for their children all day, every day. Our website, newsletter, email blasts and Facebook page provide a wide range of information and ideas to help families be partners in their children’s care. Families who call us or stop by our office can talk to someone who has been in their shoes and who can help them find resources, navigate systems and understand their options and rights. We are available to accompany families to meetings and support them in advocating for what they think is best for their children or to train and support others to do so. We assist families in writing letters and completing other documentation needed to access services for their children. We provide an array of training to families and help those who are interested to develop support networks in their communities
The more the broader community understands that children’s mental health problems are real as well as the importance of families being partners in their children’s care, the more supportive it is for our children. That means we regularly reach out to and support the community, families who might have children with mental health challenges and our partners in this work. This outreach consists of public education through social media, health fairs and community events, providing training to those working with our children and developing strategic partnerships with other groups that touch children’s mental health. Another significant way we support community is by playing an active role in local collaboratives, such as Map Teams, and ensuring they are inclusive of families. We also support all families in developing healthy attachments and relationships with their children, including by offering Circle of Security training.
Supporting Positive Change
The most fundamental way we effect change in the state is by supporting a strong grassroots network of families who can determine and help bring about the improvements needed. Any parent or caregiver who identifies as having a child with a mental health challenge can join Families as Allies. Data from families via surveys, family meetings, analysis of our calls, and in depth interviews are used to develop our policy agenda and inform the direction of our work. Our Family Leadership Training helps parents take a leadership role in their own child’s care and also learn how to serve on committees and boards related to policy. Members of Families as Allies serve on a number of policy and advisory committees. We also provide technical assistance and training to policy makers and work with local and national groups to bring about broad, systemic change. As part of this work, we issue periodic policy briefs, typically in the form of press releases.
We are also delighted to be a partner in a major infant and early childhood mental health initiative, BuDS (Beginnings Determine Success), in partnership with the City of Jackson, Mississippi Families for Kids, and a number of other organizations and partners. We oversee the project on a day to day basis, provide parent to parent support, and are working on the policy and infrastructure changes needed to support the project long term. BuDS’ website and Facebook page will be active soon. In the meantime, families and others interested in the project, can contact Laura Smith, the Project Director, at our office.