Families are the driving force for initiating, planning and implementing change in our children’s mental health system.
Creating a family driven system of care leads to more effective and accessible services and supports. In order for a family driven system to be successful, family input needs to be viewed as a critical component and given an equal voice.
The goal of a family driven system of care is to reach a level where families are empowered to share their opinions and ideas, be active members of decision and implementation processes, and are viewed as experts on the family experience. It also means that professionals are empowered to act as partners with families, and take action on the needs and ideas voiced by families.
A family driven system involves family engagement across all levels of participation at every stage. It also needs to occur at each system level including individual organizations, counties, regions, tribes and state agencies. Not every family is going to have the ability to engage at the highest levels, and families’ circumstances fluctuate so it’s important to have a variety of opportunities for involvement.
Opportunities to participate need to be culturally responsive and participation should reflect the community being served, including, but not limited to socioeconomic status, race, age, education, etc. Inclusion and equity are a priority at every level of engagement.