FYI: Your voice matters
One parent's story
The Challenge
My story started 18 years ago with my then 3 years old son. He exhibited multiple behavioral issues, so I sought help. The agency I was using at the time recognized that due to his behavioral issues, my other child was experiencing trauma and also needed mental health treatment. They continued this treatment for years but nothing changed. 9 years later I had another child and then 3 more years I added another. Throughout, we struggled through so many appointments which included, counseling, medication management, PSR (Psychosocial Rehabilitation), Parents with Love and Limits, and workshops offered from the community how to “better manage your child”. When our son was 14 years old, I was desperate. He had been kicked out of a school, shoplifted regularly, abused his siblings, and was destroying property everywhere. In a desperate reach for answers, I had him tested for Developmental Disabilities. It turned out my son was on the spectrum and had Serious Emotional Disturbance. 
At almost 17 years old my son was bigger and stronger than me. He attacked me in front of my children which meant none of us were safe. I was forced to press charges against my child (I had purposely spent his life keeping him out of the Juvenile Justice system), because I was not receiving adequate help anywhere else and this was the last resort.

Finding my voice
At one point, a friend asked me if I would be willing to “share” my story. I had no idea what this meant nor what this would look like. I told my story angrily. Through tears, snot, and hyperventilation, I made sure everyone that listened knew what my family was going through. I wanted everyone to recognize that the system not only failed my son, but they also failed my 3 other children. Eventually, the story became easier to tell. Eventually, my story helped other families know they weren’t alone. Eventually, my story was applied as examples to YES (Youth Empowerment System) so changes could be made. Eventually, my story made me stronger.

What I learned
In addition to informing the YES system for 4 years now through workgroups, chair the State Behavioral Health Planning Council, I am a member of the Juvenile Justice Commission, and I assist other families in navigating Idaho’s new system of care. I have learned so much along the way: I am not alone, my voice matters. Our youth mental health system is story-based and without the brave parents sharing their traumatic stories and experiences, YES would still be struggling to understand why pieces and parts weren’t working. I do not want another family to experience the hardship, isolation, and helpless desolation I did. I will continue to learn, grow, and help because other families need my story so they can tell theirs.  

Youth News
My name is Madeline and I am the new Youth Coordinator at the Idaho Federation of Families. I am a 2019 alumni from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA and am excited to use my background in peer-led community education and mentoring to increase youth advocacy and leadership opportunities in Idaho. I am particularly excited about revitalizing the Brick House as a welcoming after school drop-in space for youth as well as strengthen school partnerships to kickstart youth-led mental health awareness projects. 
Youth MOVE Idaho

Youth MOVE Idaho (YMI) is a youth driven group and a chapter of Youth MOVE National. YMI aims to provide peer emotional support and opportunities for mental health advocacy. Did you know that YMI has led the way in creating the Discord meeting space for Youth MOVE? If you are interested in learning more about YMI contact:
FYI: Parent support
Coffee Chat:
Discharge planning:
What do parents need?

3rd Wed of the month
October 20th at 12pm MST/11am PST

FYI Adoptive Parents

1st and 3rd Mondays
October 4th and 18th
at 8pm MST/7pm PST
FYI Parents of Youth discharging from residential

3rd Tues of the month
October 19th at 11am/10am PST

This group will support parents who have a youth discharging from intensive outpatient, residential care or the juvenile justice system.
FYI Complex Diagnosis

1st Tuesday
October 5th
at 12pm MST/11am PST

This group will support parents who have a youth who has a mental health diagnosis and is developmentally disabled.