In 2008 we had 20 family members of children with mental health needs identify peer support, for both caregiver and youth, as a practice they felt was needed to provide a safe, supportive, caring and accepting environment they desired for their families. They identified goals to increase knowledge of disorders and effective treatment, reduced caregiver strain and isolation, increase the ability to effectively advocate for their children, improve satisfaction with family life, and improve their children’s ability to function at home, school and community.
The information we received from families and professionals helped us develop the FOCUS Empowerment Group Model. For more than twenty years, peer-to-peer supports have been regarded as one of the most powerful and motivational tools to help families overcome the challenges of raising and supporting children with emotional, mental and behavioral disorders. Despite this fact, the current mental health system continues to focus on high cost services as opposed to funding low cost alternative services such as peer-to-peer family supports. FOCUS has for the past six years has been successful in supporting families and motivating them to support other families.
Traditional mental health services are primarily clinical in nature and guided by professionals who focus on treatment of the child’s symptoms. FOCUS programs are grassroots family peer-to-peer non-clinical services that enhance the impact of clinical mental health services. Which impacts the entire families ability to lead a successful life based on their unique knowledge, skills and resources.
For the past six years FOCUS has served over 700 adults and youth effectively. With ninety percent of the families served by FOCUS Programs reporting they have learned new skills that help them better understand mental health needs. They share that the way the program is delivered allows them to learn and grow as a person, parent and a family. Children and youth often report feeling like their family life is better.
These effective programs include:
- Monthly parent and youth support groups
- Education and training on mental health needs and services
- Provide professionally trained peer providing direct support daily
- Access to the support of a peer by phone
- Leadership training and coaching
- Access to resource materials on-site at FOCUS offices
- Opportunities to help other families in the community
The cost of these programs is about $250,000 per year this covers:
- 3 full time and 1 part-time time staff
- 6 childcare workers for monthly empowerment nights and activities
- 5 parent trainers to help provide training and education
- Rental fees for programs
- Materials for youth and family programs and trainings
- Phones to provide families with access to support
- Office space for FOCUS offices
FOCUS Empowerment Group can always use volunteers who will give of their time and talents. Please email josephturner@focusempowermentgroup or call 816-671-9190 to volunteer your time.
There are other opportunities to help FOCUS Empowerment Group:
- Please share this by email with friends, family or anyone you think can donate
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- Notify friends and family of the opportunity to help kids through FOCUS