The Non-profit was formed in 1997. Like most family – run organizations, North Carolina Families United was created around a kitchen table by dedicated parents eager and frustrated to create policy change in schools, medical practices and their communities that would not only help their children but those that were to come that struggle from emotional and behavioral issues. As the one and only STATEWIDE Family-run organization, and state chapter of the National Federation of Families, NC Families United has a board of directors’ composition of 51% consumer family member board.
North Carolina Families United, Inc. (NCFU) managed to grow with small grants from various sources that enabled it to hire fellow family member, Gail M Cormier, who is credited with building up a provider and youth organization in New Hampshire as its first Executive Director. Since 2006 when Cormier was hired; the struggling group has grown from 35,000 a year annual budget to over $800,000.
In the State Plan 2003: Blueprint for Change – July 1, 2003 identified “family to family support” as the first of the domains in the “array of supports and services that are part of the integrated comprehensive provider network system for children and their families” (p. 119). The importance of participants and families in the delivery of services was reiterated in The State Strategic Plan 2007-2010 and continues today. NC Families United mission supports and unites the voices of children, youth, and families with mental health concerns to educate, support and advocate for improved services and lives
Family and youth voice is staffed by parents, caregivers of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health concerns and youth themselves. Parents and professionals working collaboratively as partners are now recognized as a best practice and now enjoy a partnership in planning for System of Care sustainability and expansion supported by the SOC Expansion Planning and Implementation grants. These collaborative partnerships have resulted in measurable and direct positive benefits for families, children and providers. The work is based upon and built through careful and targeted attention to the development of partners and collaborators at every juncture of the work. NC Families United continues to work with current long-term partners to collaboratively effect change and ensure the development of a quality “system of care” mental health transformation system for children and their families. It is the goal to leverage resources by partnering with other programs, agencies, and services; sharing resources and tools, cross dissemination of information, and complimenting the efforts of all partners. NC Families United continues to work closely with: State Collaborative for Children and Families provides a forum for collaboration, advocacy and action among families, public and private child and family serving agencies and community partners to improve outcomes for all children, youth and families. NC Families United provides family and youth voice on the State SOC Expansion Planning and Implementation Steering Committee, the State Mental Health Planning Council that serves as an advocate for adults with a serious mental illness, children with a severe emotional disturbance, and other individuals with mental illnesses or emotional problems and monitors, reviews, and evaluates the allocation and adequacy of mental health services within the state. NC Council of Community Programs improves service quality and management effectiveness by providing its member programs with a strong, cohesive, statewide voice through policy analysis, technical assistance, publications, and educational programs. Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (MHDDSAS) implements the public mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse service system; including the orchestration of the NC System of Care. NC Division of Social Services provides training, technical assistance, and consultation to the local staff who work in programs for families and children including Child Welfare, Family Support, Work First, Child Support, and Food and Nutrition Services. NC YouthMOVENC, a program of NC Families United provides team building activities and leadership skills training for youth with mental health concerns. The NC Disabilities Rights Council and Nationally the Federation of Families and FREDLA, Family –Run Executive Directors Leadership Association.
FAMILY Partner Peer Support – NC Families United serves as the statewide Family Partner and Youth Peer Support partner workforce development hub. NC Families United works with local family serving advocates such as ParentVoice to provide a solid Family Partner Peer Support training series for emerging Family Partner Peer Support professionals. NC Families United host quarterly Family Partner workforce development days . NC Families United supports over 430 Family Partners in the field. Currently 20 Family Partners are NC Families United staff. Family Partners are found in all areas of the state.
NC Families United developed in conjunction with the state of North Carolina DHHS the required core classes include: Introduction to Peer Support Training for Parents & Families. Family Partner 101, Child and Family Teams from the Family Perspective [CFT 1 & 2]. Youth Peer training (YP2P) and Youth Move trainings including RENEW 101 are trained to Youth Peer Support.
NC Families United has worked with DHHS and DMA to develop a B4 waiver to support High Fidelity Wraparound and individual Family and Youth Peer Support.
Demonstrating Co Partnership a true value of System of Care and real Family and youth voice is to hold true to co training and co facilitating with an agency and family partner. At the collaborative NC Families United ensures that the collaborative and sub committees all have co-chairs. In addition the State SOC Coordinator, Terri Grant and the Executive Director Gail Cormier attend regional SOC Coordinator meetings together each quarter, Family Partner Quarterly meetings and try to reach as many local collaboratives together as possible to support each other and to demonstrate true partnership.
Outreach to Families Across the state and events, although the block grant does not fund all of these activities, NC Families United hosts family cafes in 3 areas during each month, YouthMove meetings are held once a month and other local area trainings and events are held each month.
NC Families United receives on average 42 calls per week about supports for children, families and youth as well as calls requesting information on trainings and health insurance. Recently, a majority of calls have been focusing on adolescents and school supports for behaviors.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month, since 2009 NC Families United has collaborated with other state and local family organizations to promote and disseminate information on children’s mental health. NC Families United has designed Governor Proclamations for the event, legislative meetings, rallies and most recently an annual dinner. The highlight is always the excitement surrounding the Governor’s mansion turning green. Because of these efforts individual county efforts now run independently and happen each may to celebrate the reduction of stigma and information for Children’s Mental Health.
Cross System Collaboration is the most important push for real system of care and family and youth voice, because of the funding of the block grant, NC Families is seen as the “go to” family organization for DPI, DSS and DJJ. Recently DSS had a series of full day work groups for planning for the development of the CFSR-PIP. Five themed workgroups that cut across the 7 Outcomes and 7 Systemic Factors found within the results report to DSS. Kevin Kelly approached the Executive Director to help find multiple families to attend the 5 work group sessions. NC Families United paired experienced Family Partner Coordinators with multiple family members to attend each session. DSS found funding to pay for family members for their day, plus mileage. The results were a strong and positive experience for families and agency attendees. Below are some of the family comments, followed by agency comments.
On the Road to Family Driven Care- Is the statewide culture change training that brings upon significant shifts in understanding about consumer involvement. Each local collaborative can host it once a year.
High Fidelity Wraparound – State DHHS partner to High Fidelity Wraparound implementation System of Care and the Governors funded Tiered Case Management project.