Over the past several months, Families as Allies has started several groups for parents and caregivers of children with behavioral health challenges. We are grateful to all of you who have joined us. We hope this information will help you decide which group or groups best match your needs and interests.
Some Background: Sometimes people are not sure what we mean by a caregiver. We define “caregiver” as someone raising a child who is not that child’s parent. It might be a grandparent, another relative, a family friend who is allowing the child to live with them or a foster parent. Although we very much appreciate people who help us take care of our children, such as extended family who do things with our children or are very involved and caring teachers, that is not who we mean by caregiver.
There is also sometimes confusion over what we mean by a behavioral health challenge. A behavioral health challenge includes traditional mental health diagnoses and challenges like depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and oppositional defiant disorder. It also includes a child dealing with issues that pose challenges to their mental health – for example – having gone through a traumatic event or coping with another type of disability. We leave it up to parents and caregivers to define and decide if their child has a behavioral health challenge that would make one of our groups relevant.
Our Current Groups (All groups require registration and members are asked to respect each others’ confidentiality):
Virtual Support Group – This group is for any parent or caregiver of a child with a behavioral health challenge who would like support from other parents and caregivers in the same shoes. The group meets every Thursday at noon for about an hour and has named themselves “Parents Unmuted”. The group also often includes brief updates about practical issues, such as dealing with virtual education or children’s rights in the education system. Here is the registration link for our next group.
Supportive Coaching for Parents Supporting Other Parents – This group is for any parents/caregivers supporting other parents/caregivers in any system, including certified parent peer support specialists in the mental health system and parent consultants working with families of children and youth with special health care needs in the health care system. This group offers support from others doing the same work as well as supportive coaching about best practices and national standards in parent peer support. General feedback from the groups is used to help systems be more responsive to families and to parent peer support. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of the month at 12 noon. The next meeting will be on November 18 and you can find more information about registration here.
Leadership Training Graduates Coaching and Support Group – This group is open only to leadership training graduates and focuses on opportunities for graduates to serve on decision-making and policy groups. It also provides coaching and guidance for those who are already serving on groups or about to serve on groups, and is a place where graduates can discuss common concerns, problems and successes that will help them be more effective parent/caregiver leaders. Practical leadership skills, such as how to make effective public comments and write letters to policy makers are discussed and practiced as well. Meetings are held on the 4th Wednesday of every month at 12 noon. For November only, this group will meet on Tuesday, November 24 due to Thanksgiving.
Early Childhood Focus Groups – We are doing three focus groups in November for Mississippi parents and caregivers of children ages birth to five who have social, emotional or developmental challenges. Parents will be asked in the focus groups to share their thoughts about getting help for their children and to compare what happens to them to what happened to families in groups that we did a few years ago (see previous findings from our Childhood Focus Groups). Each focus group usually lasts 45-60 minutes. Participants will receive a $25 Walmart gift card.
These are the dates for the three groups. Each focus group usually lasts 45-60 minutes (please sign up for only one group):