December 28, 2021

The Ally: A Time for Reflection and Hope

 

The end of one year and the start of the next is often a time for reflection and hope—although I know many of us have become a bit more cautious in what we hope for given the past two years. Throughout all of the twists and turns since March 2020, one constant has remained: Whatever we face, be it happy or sad, challenging or easy, expected or unexpected, it is easier and more comforting to face the days and months and years together than alone.

There are several opportunities to work together and give input as 2022 approaches. I urge you to make the most of each one of them. To every parent or caregiver raising a child, remember this: You know your child better than anyone, and your ideas about how systems can best help your child and others are important. No one else has your expertise or perspective.
 
I hope all of you will join Families as Allies for our virtual combined Community Partnership Celebration and New Year Open House on Monday, January 24, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. The event is free, with paid sponsorships available. There will be opportunities to share your ideas at the event. Please also take a few minutes to complete this survey and tell us how we did in 2021 and what you think Families as Allies should focus on in 2022.

If you are a person who works with parent peer supporters, such as a peer support supervisor, children's services director or MAP team facilitator, please join us on January 20 at 3:00 p.m. or January 28 at 10:00 a.m. for a Conversation for Anyone working with Parent Peer Supporters. We will share an overview of Families as Allies' parent peer support training curriculum and ongoing support and training. We want to hear your feedback on how we're doing from your perspective and how we can be most supportive to you. We will also discuss issues in parent peer support, including how to pay for it.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health has two opportunities to give feedback. From Executive Director Wendy Bailey:

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health has engaged the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute (NRI) to conduct a review of its strategic plan and the strategic plan revision processes. As a result, NRI is conducting a series of surveys, focus groups, and interviews with stakeholders to understand their experiences interacting with Mississippi's community mental health system.

Feedback from these various stakeholder groups will be synthesized to provide recommendations to DMH on which measures should be collected to better understand the effectiveness of the community system, make improvements to the system, and guide development of future planning efforts. For those who do not receive a feedback request, your input is still appreciated. You can submit your feedback through an online form, and NRI may follow up with you for more information.

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health also put out, on December 17, its proposed permanent policy for Mississippi Youth Programs Around the Clock (MYPAC). The public comment period ends at 5:00 p.m. on January 10. You can read the policy here, and review how to submit comments here. If your child is or has been in MYPAC, you can comment either on the policy itself or how the program can be most helpful to children and families in the future.

The study team at the University of South Florida (USF) Department of Child and Family Studies is conducting a national online survey of former youth residents of residential treatment facilities and their parents and caregivers to understand their experiences and perspective of the care received by the facilities. The facilities include programs such as therapeutic boarding schools, wilderness camps, residential treatment centers, and boot camps. We encourage youth or families with experience with these types of facilities to take the survey. 

Parents and others raising children, remember: Mississippi state law says that Mississippi's system of care for children's mental health shall be family-driven. No "ifs, ands or buts"--or exceptions for some families and not for others--it shall be family-driven. Family-driven means that families have a primary decision-making role in the care of their children and the policies and practices governing the well-being of all children. What you think matters. Please take time to share your input on these surveys and policies.

It also seems fitting that the holiday of Kwanzaa and its seven principles—--unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith--bridge the old and new years. I encourage everyone to take some time to become familiar with Kwanzaa and its principles if you are not already.

I am looking forward to our continued work together in 2022!

If you would like to include Families as Allies in your end-of-year giving plans, you can donate online or mail donations to Families as Allies, 840 East River Place, Suite 500, Jackson MS 39202. 

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EVENTS

 
Family members may drop in to share any concerns or get feedback from others about handling different situations.
 
Presenters will describe the programs and discuss preliminary research efforts to implementing suicide prevention in schools.
 
Join other parents for a monthly meeting and online gathering to coach and support other parents in any system.
 
The Mississippi State Board of Education meeting will be held on Jan. 20th. Participants may attend live or view the meeting via live stream.
 
This hour is open for any family member to drop in for all or some of the time to ask questions or get feedback about IEP issues.
 
Join in as we share an overview of Families as Allies’ parent peer support training curriculum and ongoing support and training.
 
Join Families as Allies on Jan 24th for a combined virtual event including the Annual Community Partnership and Annual Open House.
 
Join in as we share an overview of Families as Allies’ parent peer support training curriculum and ongoing support and training.

RESOURCES

 
The December 24th edition of the Children's Mental Health Network Friday Update has several helpful resources about supporting the mental health of both children and families through all the twists and turns of the pandemic. There are also some great training opportunities. We encourage any family whose child has been in residential care to respond to the survey about residential care experiences.
 
Every December 26th, the holiday of Kwanzaa begins. Kwanzaa is rooted in African celebrations of harvest, but its formal origin is surprisingly recent. The holiday was started by Maulana Karenga, a professor in California, in 1966. Dr. Karenga wanted African Americans “to feel good about themselves and to have something that they could connect to, to make their lives better,” Dr. Linda Humes, an educator, told InsideEdition.com.

 
 
 
If you are not mentally ready to change, making New Year’s resolutions may put you under too much pressure – instead, set yourself intentions, and for the short term, not a year, therapists say.
 

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