Family Involvement

Vermont’s history of over 20 years of “family involvement” in our Systems of Care

Vermont can take pride in our rich heritage of including family and consumer voice in all of our system of care development over the years. We hold strong to our values of “nothing about us without us”. Through many initiatives, including two previous System of Care grants, Vermonters have come to understand that families “know their children best” and with support can “partner” with the system of care to help achieve healthy and positive outcomes for their children with special needs. This “including” and “partnering” with families has led to the current language of “Family Centered Care”.

Our next journey to “Family and Young Adult Driven Care”

Vermont’s third System of Care (SOC), grant is for Young Adults in Transition (YIT), and we have national guidelines of “Family and Youth Driven”. This directive originated with the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America which states that Mental Health Care Is Consumer and Family Driven. Click here for the detailed description of “Family Driven Care”

What does this really mean? How is this different from Family Centered Care?

Family-driven means families have a primary decision making role in the care of their own children as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all children in their community, state, tribe, territory , and nation.

“Family Driven Care” will not work without a skilled and supportive SOC workforce. Families need the skills, support and information to make informed decisions about their children’s care. This is our next step beyond “partnerships”, consensus building and teaming that we are all more familiar with.

Challenges to Family Driven and Young Adult Driven Focus!

Family leadership and voice is part of our system of care as defined in Act264, and has been well established in Vermont for over 20 years. So how can the Family leadership and voice help develop and foster Young Adult voice leadership? We can use models to support our vision such as the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and their connection/guidance to YOUTH M.O.V.E

Not every family will want to “drive” the services that meet the needs of their children and youth. Families know their own strengths and capabilities; and there is no wrong choice. Choosing to drive the services is a personal choice, which should be available to families as we transform Vermont’s system of care.

Also, not every young adult has a strong connection to their family of origin. One of the goals of this transition grant is to help young people have strong family and/or ally connections. Our role is to encourage, where appropriate, strong family relationships and build skills in young adults and their families. Child protection statistics show that most children in custody at age of majority return to their family of origin. It is a delicate balance to move forward in strength as family and youth/young adult driven, but we believe Vermont is up to the challenge!

How can you become involved?

The Vermont Federation of Families For Children’s Mental Health will continue to provide technical assistance for this grant and for communities and families as we move toward “Family Driven Care”. Lead Family Contact on the Transition grant, Cindy Marshall, has been supporting families to advise the development, implementation, and evaluation of this next system of care.