CWC

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Projects

Partnering With Parents Network

Promoting the Role of Parents and Caregivers in Advocating for Children and Youth with Behavioral Health Needs

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Overview: Partnering With Parents is a network of training organizations and provider agencies that promote the role of parents and caregivers in advocating for children and youth with behavioral health needs. The network accomplishes this goal by impoving the quality and accessibility of parent training and opportunities for parents and caregivers to participate in advocacy activities.

Need: One fifth of Connecticut children have behavioral health disorders. Many do not receive the care they need because parents and other principal caregivers are overwhelmed with the complexities of their children’s needs and with the number of different systems (mental health, addictions, judicial and educational) that must be negotiated for their children to receive needed diagnostic and treatment services. Poverty, stigma and discrimination further isolate families whose children need services most. Children with behavioral health conditions benefit substantially from active involvement of their most important advocates – their parents. The President’s 2003 New Freedom Commission Report and the national Action Plan for Behavioral Health Workforce Development emphasized the critical role of families as caregivers and advocates for the behavioral health of children and youth. While many organizations in Connecticut offer training, parents and caregivers are often unaware of the classes, the training activities may not be coordinated or linked, and it can be difficult for parents and caregivers to access opportunities to advocate for their children and the children of others. The Partnering With Parents Network was designed to improve access to and coordination.of parent training, and to foster advocacy by parents and caregivers.

Objectives:

  1. To create a network of organizations committed to parent/caregivers training and leadership development;
  2. To strengthen the capacity of member agencies to train effectively;
  3. To identify training sequences that enable parents and caregivers to progress from learning about advocating for their own families to advocating for the families of others and for broader system change;
  4. To develop and implement a set of training quality indicators;
  5. To create and implement a listserv to match trained, interested parents and caregivers with available volunteer opportunities on advisory councils, boards and committees to assure that parent voices are heard at all levels of decision-making;
  6. To explore the concept of offering provider agencies the option to become a “Partnering With Parents” affiliate by adhering to the principles listed in the Network’s Membership Agreement. 

Activities: Expert consultants assisted agencies that offer parent/caregivers training in developing a network Action Plan and a Resource Directory. The latter lists parent training agencies and describes training programs for families who have children with behavioral health needs. The Consultation Center at Yale provided assistance to interested member agencies in strengthening their program evaluation methods. During 2010-2011, participant agency representatives met regularly to discuss and refine objectives, goals and activities.

Results: Network participants adopted the name Partnering With Parents, and then developed and adopted a mission statement, membership description and agreement, fact sheet, governance structure, marketing plan and a process to seek a capacity-building grant. With the assistance of the Connecticut Clearinghouse (a program of the Wheeler Clinic Connecticut Center for Prevention, Wellness and Recovery) the network developed and circulated instructions for listing training programs on-line through the Connecticut Clearinghouse, 211- Connecticut and Connecticut Network of Care.

Current Status: Up to 14 community agencies and 3 state agency representatives have been participating in the network. Efforts are underway to seek ongoing funding to strengthen and broaden the network. Desired outcomes include completion of a user-friendly training guide that parents/caregivers can use to pursue a range of well-defined training options; member agency adoption and implementation of training quality indicators; matching trained parents/caregivers with volunteer opportunities and obtaining feedback regarding the extent to which matches are mutually beneficial; increased clarity of member agency roles in the training continuum; increased collaboration of network members resulting in more efficient leveraging of training resources for parents/caregivers; clarifying and strengthening member agencies interrelationships in the continuum of training; and enhancing member agency sustainability. An additional goal is to have five to ten provider agencies identify as Partnering With Parents organizations, increasing linkages between training and service agencies.

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Contact Information

Project Leader:
Paloma B. Dee
Partnering With Parents Co-Chair
familyeducation@namict.org

T: 860-882-0236 ext. 27

T: 800-215-3021

F: 860-882-0240