Are you a parent or caregiver raising or raising a child aged 0-21 who has mental health or behavioral health challenges? Would you like to use your lived experience to help another parent who is in your shoes?
Then being a parent peer supporter may be for you!
What is Parent Peer Support? Parent peer support is a parent/caregiver or using their lived experience to support another parent/caregiver who is going through similar experiences. The goal of the relationship is to support the parent/caregiver to identify their goals and achieve them. This support may include helping professional providers listen to families and understand things from their perspective. Parent peer support taps into the resiliency families have shown in negotiating many challenges, then uses those strengths to help them achieve new goals for their child. It often focuses heavily on system navigation support, particularly education issues. Because peer support is based on shared lived experience, it fosters additional connections with natural supports and community resources.
Who Can Be a Parent Peer Supporter? A parent peer supporter is a biological parent, adoptive parent, or caregiver with legal custody who is currently raising or has raised a child with these characteristics:
- The child is currently between the ages of 0-21, or was when they first began having challenges.
- The child has an emotional, social, behavioral or substance use disability.
- The child received services in or navigated the mental health or a related system (for example, a child with an IEP related to behavior issues at school).
What Do Parent Peer Supporters Do?
- Assist in identifying resources for their children/youth;
- Help families navigate the various child/youth-serving systems;
- Support parents in self-advocacy;
- Support parents in obtaining the needed services for their child/youth;
- Assist parents in fostering relationships with community partners;
- Educate providers and other employees on family-driven practice;
- Participate on local MAP Teams;
- Assist in responding to child/youth and family crisis;
- Support families in the wraparound/treatment process;
- Gather data from families, help with evaluation and serve on policy committees.
How Do I Become a Parent Peer Supporter? The Department of Mental Health certifies parent peer supporters in the mental health system. Families as Allies conducts virtual training for the certification. The next training is March 21-25, 2022, and the application deadline is February 21, 2022. Click here for the application packet.
Who Should Take the Training?
Any parent or caregiver who is raising a child who has challenges and:
- Is interested in working for a community mental health center or another agency certified by the Department of Mental Health. Completing the training does not guarantee you a job, but it helps ensure you’ll be ready for one.
- Is interested in doing part-time contractual work for Families as Allies. We are building our pool of contractual employees.
- Supports parents in any system. This training will strengthen your skills and help you network with other parent peer supporters.
- Would like to learn how to support other parents on the same journey in any child-serving system. We currently have funds to pay training stipends to parents who are—or have been—involved in the youth court system and would like to learn how to support other parents going through the same thing. Contact us at 601-355-0915 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Do You Employ or Work with Parent Peer Supporters?
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!
If you are a person who works with parent peer supporters, such as a peer support supervisor, children’s services director or MAP team facilitator, please join us on January 20 at 3:00 p.m. or January 28 at 10 a.m. for a Conversation for Anyone working with Parent Peer Supporters. We will share an overview of Families as Allies’ parent peer support training curriculum and ongoing support and training. We want to hear your feedback on how we’re doing from your perspective and how we can be most supportive to you. We will also discuss issues in parent peer support, including how to pay for it.