Every time there’s a fifth Wednesday in a month, the Families as Allies team takes to Facebook and YouTube to offer a live-stream discussion on several topics that are current issues at Families as Allies.
In the latest “Families as Allies Live” episode, Executive Director Joy Hogge hosted a discussion featuring the Families as Allies team—Henry Moore, Coreaner Price, Nikki Flippins and Jacquelynn Taylor—and special guests Ashley Glascoe and LaTonya Pittman, parent-peer support specialists.
The discussion primarily focused on the role of parent-peer support specialists. Ashley elaborated on her journey of becoming a parent-peer supporter, motivated by her experience with her child’s mental health challenges. She mentioned how the role helps her support other families and has made her a better parent. She highly praised the training provided by “Families as Allies,” stating that she often reaches out to team members for guidance.
“You learn how to be an advocate not only for yourself and your family but teaching somebody and helping somebody to be an advocate for their family as well,” Ms. Pittman said. “That’s the joy of being a parent peer support specialist.”
Nikki Flippins, who handles training for parent peer support, highlighted that one doesn’t need to be professionally involved to become a parent peer support specialist. The training is beneficial if someone is employed in public and private agencies or wants to support others based on personal experience. She also emphasized that the program covers a range of issues, from mental health in education to juvenile justice and child welfare.
Joy brought attention to the fact that parent-peer support isn’t limited to just parents. It also includes caregivers, whether they are grandparents, foster parents, or other extended family members raising a child.
The team shared details on upcoming training dates and application deadlines for those interested in becoming parent peer support specialists. The next available training session is scheduled for November, with the application deadline in October. The team also pointed the audience to their brochure with more information on parent peer support and upcoming training dates on their website.
Joy noted that—along with initial training—parent-peer supporters need to renew their credentials every four years. The number of required continuing education hours varies based on how long ago one was certified. Families as Allies has a recent blog entry covering recertification.
Next, the focus turned to “back to school” issues families face, particularly families with children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Henry Moore highlighted the systemic problems faced by families year after year. Henry walked through a blog entry focused on typical problems families can face when their children return to school.
He and the team also discussed specific support tools on the Families as Allies website, including templates for various formal letters and requests parents may need to submit to schools, such as requesting an evaluation for their child or an independent education evaluation if a parent disagrees with a district’s assessment results. Additional resources cover how to request a facilitator for your IEP meeting at the school district’s expense and how to file different types of complaints, including formal state complaints.
Finally, Joy focused on Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs). Mississippi is one of 15 states to receive a planning grant for this initiative, which aims to provide community mental health and substance use treatment services. She encouraged viewers, especially those receiving services, to take a survey to give input on the state’s planning for the CCBHC model and to join relevant committees.