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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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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