New Roles for Families in Systems of Care
Executive Summary: Since Knitzer’s 1982 wake up call to the mental health community, family members have gained knowledge, skills, and access to influence systems of care so our children with mental health needs receive better services and we get supports to raise them to be strong and healthy. We have found and developed our voice. We have become strong partners and assertive leaders in developing a better system of care for our children. We now serve as collaborators, advisors, providers, planners, administrators, evaluators, as well as advocates. Our work provides information and assistance to other families and professionals. We have begun to help one another coordinate the system of care and provide pre-service training to personnel who will be serving our children and families. The diversity and scope of our activities demonstrates the impact families have had on the systems of care emerging around the country.

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Family Roles in System of Care Communities
This chart outlines the roles that families play in system of care communities and levels of readiness for roles (initiation, solution-focused, and expanding interests) in each area of involvement.

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Family Guide to Systems of Care
This bilingual family guide was first printed in December 1998 with the support of the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services, part of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One of the most popular print publications of the Caring for Every Child’s Mental Health Campaign, the Family Guide is intended to inform caregivers and families about how to seek help for children with mental health problems. Information is provided on what caregivers and families need to know, ask, expect, and do to get the most out of their experience with systems of care. The content and format of the guide was determined by families from across the country, and it was written by a diverse team of experts led by the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. The initial text for the guide was developed by Families and Communities Equal Success of Stark County, OH. Rhode Island Parent Support Network of Warwick, RI, field-tested the guide’s content, relevance, usefulness, and format.

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Voices: Families as Partners in System Reform
On May 11, 2004, the first ever Rhode Island Children’s Behavioral Health Summit, Voices: Families as Partners in System Reform, took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick, Rhode Island. Over 150 participants – from federal and state lawmakers to youth, family members, volunteers, and social service providers – listened and learned together in plenary sessions, over lunch and in five intense workgroups around the Summit theme. What emerged from the day, specifically from the five workgroups, was a call to action in the form of recommendations to DCYF and its partners. An important outcome of this event was also a renewed commitment from all sectors to further develop policies, practices, and services that are community based, family centered, and culturally competent.

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