FAMILY SUPPORT

 FAMILY SUPPORT PARTNERS IN THE WRAPAROUND PROCESS:

SUPPORTING A FAMILY’S JOURNEY TOWARDS

SELF-ADVOCACY AND SELF-EFFICACY

 

Written by Celia Serkin, Executive Director

Montgomery County Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health

(Revised April 2010)

The Montgomery County Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (Federation) is a family organization dedicated to helping family members who have children or youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenges. Family members who have children with these challenges run the organization. The Federation provides family peer-to-peer support, educational programs, advocacy, group support, information and referral, and leadership opportunities to parents and other primary caregivers who have children with these challenges. It also provides leadership opportunities, educational programs, social activities, and youth peer-to-peer support for youth with these challenges.

The Federation has family members who work as staff for the organization. They are called “family support partners.” They are trained family members who have extensive experience raising a child with an emotional, behavioral, or mental health challenge and have first-hand knowledge of how services are provided in the community. They have navigated many child-serving agencies in an effort to get services and supports for their own children. They know about resources and can guide families in their efforts to access what they need for their child and family. Several of the family support partners were family members participated in the wraparound process before becoming employees of the Federation.

The family support partners offer family members participating in wraparound different types of supports, ranging from helping to access services to attending meetings, and hosting a group event that allows families with related experiences to share information and support one another. They partner with care coordinators and participate in child and family teams. The family support partners help family members understand and fully engage in the wraparound process. They have functions related to each principle of wraparound:

  • Family Voice and Choice

  • Team-Based

  • Natural Supports

  • Collaboration

  • Community-based

  • Culturally Competent

  • Individualized

  • Strength-based

  • Persistence

  • Outcome-based

 

The Federation utilizes an empowerment model of family support in the wraparound process. The family support partners help families progress on their journey (continuum) towards self-advocacy and self-efficacy through the acquisition of skills, knowledge and a network of support.

The family support partners assist parents and other primary caregivers involved in wraparound by helping them successfully engage in the wraparound process and supporting them in their relationship with those formal and informal supports involved in their lives. They work in partnership with the care coordinators. The family support partners help to promote family voice, choice and access during every phase of the wraparound process.

Specifically, the family support partners:

  • Help the family understand the wraparound service delivery model, the Waiver (if applicable) the child and family team, and the caregiver’s role within the program. Provide information on the roles of individuals involved in the plan of care.

  • Provide the family member with support from others who have been in similar situation or had similar experiences caring for a child with behavioral or mental health challenges.

  • Offer support beyond that provided by traditional Public Health System services

  • Give assistance in developing and implementing the plan of care.

  • Assist in accessing services, resources, and other supports, and in removing barriers to care, including coordinating services and community resource linkage and accompanying families to meetings or other community resources.

  • Help the family member to identify and build natural supports.

  • Work with the family member to increase his/her self-advocacy skills.

  • Help the family member progress on his/her journey towards self-advocacy and self-efficacy through the acquisition of skills, knowledge and a network of support.

  • Support the family in engaging and actively participate in the wraparound process.

  • Support the family and/or youth to effectively partake in the child and family team meetings and in the plan of care development and implementation, including providing assistance for transitioning out of services.

  • Work with family members to identify and build natural supports and to invite people to participate in their child and family team.

  • Support family members in their relationship with providers, agency representatives, and others involved in their lives.

  • Help to promote family voice, choice and access.

  • Provide emotional support and give hope for a better future.

  • Assist with problem solving and creative brainstorming.

  • Use their personal and professional life experiences to:

    • establish credibility

    • give family members hope

    • provide unconditional and non-judgmental support

  • Support family members in identifying their strengths and needs and developing strategies to get their needs meet.

  • Assist family members in organizing and preparing for meetings so that they feel like they are partners in the decision-making process.

  • Support family members in meetings, such as at school or court.

  • Offer support groups, educational programs, and other family support activities, and connect families to opportunities to gain support from others who have been in a similar situation or had similar experiences caring for a child with behavioral or mental health challenges.

The family support partners provide peer support directed at helping family members resolve their own challenges and needs. At the same time, they help support family members in their journey toward self-advocacy and self-efficacy. With assistance from the family support partners, family members can become the best advocate for their own children. In addition, family members can gain the belief in their capabilities to organize and perform actions required to manage their prospective situations.

Working with the family and the child and family team, the family support partners establish identified targets and benchmarks for focused and individualized family support. The family support provided helps family members resolve their own challenges and address their unique needs, while moving them to a legacy stage where they assist other families with similar issues. In addition, family members become involved in local and state policy making. In this model, family members become advocates for their own children as well as for other children. The family support partners thereby promote a family member’s movement along three primary stages in his/her growth process:

  • Preparing for action – A family member is preparing to take specific action to improve his/her situation.

  • Actions and successes – A family member has taken different actions and has experienced successes.

  • Establishing a legacy – A family member is now moving to a legacy stage whereby he/she chooses to advocate for other family members having similar experiences and/or to provide support for these families.

 

When providing family support, the family support partners also must take into consideration another set of stages to define where a family member is in his/her journey toward self-efficacy and self-advocacy. A family member may fall in one of five stages on a family support continuum: intensive, moderate, supportive, maintenance, and legacy. The family member’s movement on this continuum is fluid. A family member may move back and forth from one stage to another. The family support levels correspond to the identifiable stages: intensive, moderate, supportive, maintenance, and legacy. When providing peer-to-peer support, family support partners work in partnership with family members to determine where they are in their journey towards self advocacy and self-efficacy and how they are progressing. The family support partners provide a specific level of peer-to-peer support depending on the stage the family member is in at a particular point in time.

Working in partnership with the family, the family support partners administer a Family Journey Assessment (FJA) to:

  • help identify where the family member is in terms of his/her journey towards self-advocacy and self-efficacy

  • determine with the family member identifiable strategies needed to be discussed with the child and family team and incorporated into the plan of care

  • track the movement, process and experience of the family’s journey towards self-advocacy and self-efficacy

The family support partners identify the family member’s needs from a family support perspective and monitor progress toward empowerment. They track a family member’s movement through the stages. The assessment is not dependent on the child’s behavior. The results of the Family Journey Assessment are to be shared with the child and family team and used to inform the development, implementation and monitoring of the plan of care as it relates to the need for individual and group family support services.

It is critical that the family support partners attend the child and family teams to support the family members, and work in partnership with the care coordinators. They work to balance family-driven and tea-driven processes. The child and family team members need to support family-driven as well as team-driven decision-making processes. Guided by the family member, the team, which includes the family support partner, discusses those interventions related to family support that need to be incorporated into plan of care.  

There is a crosswalk between the growth stages and the family support stages. The family support partners use these stages to develop, in partnership with the family member, individualized family support goals that are integrated in the unified plan of care as developed by the child and family team.

 Colesville Professional Center

13321 New Hampshire Avenue Suite 101

Silver Spring, MD 20904

301-879-5200 (Tel)  *  301-879-0012 (Fax)