Beginnings & History
...from concept to operations...
Concept paper is written...
Consult with MHD Parent Advocate and RSN Child Care Coordinator urge efforts to move beyond volunteerism. Parent interviews and input and mentoring from a statewide parent led project and support from Parent to Parent provide assistance for the concept paper.
Funding is established...
Thurston/Mason Regional Support Network provides funding for part time parent coordinator and a budget for printing and translation. The work begins with creation of brochures, hand-outs and to create sustainability through building 25 partnerships with local community, regional, state and one national organization. Power point and group web page are created to help with marketing the project. The brochures evolve into a card hand-out with design support from one of the project partners.
Group meetings begin...
Thurston county health building and Shelton library are established as meeting locations for Thurston and Mason families.
Project Continues to be funded...second contract with Regional Support Network.
UW Parent Empowerment Program training is held in Olympia area and includes Olympia and Shelton area participants. This is a 40 hour Evidence Based Practice training with 20 hours of follow up consult calls. Two participants from Shelton enroll in Crisis Line training.
First youth meeting held in Olympia...new website launched...
First Blog installed on website due to partnership with UW Public Behavioral Health & Justice Policy and Parent/Caregiver blog is added as well as the new Justice for All/AAPD (American Association of People with Disabilities) blog.
Youth page is added to website and youth begin meeting every other week. First youth coordinator is co-founder of Health n' Action that has evolved into Youth n' Action, a state-wide program of SAFE Washington, for which our youth group is modeled. Youth are receiving leadership training and begin determination of interests and goals. First parent volunteers are identified to help support the project (funded for less than one half-time FTE) parent/caregiver groups in Thurston and Mason.
First volunteers step forward to help facilitate Shelton and Olympia monthly group meetings and to contribute ideas, making sure that we maintain a positive peer-based network of parent/caregivers.
W.R.A.P. (wellness recovery action plan) five hour training is presented with eight youth from Thurston/Mason, Pierce and King counties. I'm told this is the first training of this kind for transition age youth in Washington state, for YNA (youth n' action) and for our local youth. Jeanette Barnes donated her time as trainer and Stephanie Lane continues to volunteer her time as youth coordinator. The youth continue meeting at the Thurston county health building (free) but meet for the first time at the clubhouse at Capital City Apartments (also free), which sports a homelike setting with fireplace, kitchen, exercise equipment and pool. In addition to on-going leadership and w.r.a.p. training, the youth have participated in hiking and glow golf activities. The group celebrates and exemplifies diversity and multiculturalism.
Wraparound training planned for families continues partnership with the Mason Foster Association local group, Where The Heart Is, Yes! Technology project director, FAMH and the Shelton United Methodist Church, that is providing training space, and again with Jeanette Barnes, who is volunteering to train for the entire 40 hours (Oct. through Nov. 2009). Jeanette provided a power point introduction to the concept of wraparound for families at the Shelton library, attended by 20 participants, a mixture of families and child serving professionals that brought ten children, in Thurston and Mason counties. FAMH
FAMH volunteers total seven consumers that represent kinship caregivers, biological parents, 3rd party guardian and adoptive parents and youth.
Wraparound for families training continues with eight parents from Mason county who are asking about wraparound facilitator training. We are all moving at individual levels as we begin to understand the process.
Intergenerational youth activity in October produced 16 carved pumpkins at Capital Retirement Center and the youth completed a second 5 hour W.R.A.P. (wellness recovery action plan) training for a total of 10 hours. Two Thurston youth testified at the state level about how what they have gained from Thurston/Mason Youth n' Action and why this activity should be funded.
Three Mason parents are now part of the Mason FAMH meeting planners, determining how best to disseminate flyers, creating a new activity and securing speakers. One of the Mason moms began advocating at the state level by asking another mom to join her in a meeting with one of their state representatives. The state representative ended up agreeing to prime sponsor a bill about parent and consultant access to the classroom, a concept that has gained support in the form of 18 letters from parents in 8 counties. This mom has created a website of her own where she has a space that explains the bill. She has also created a personalized parent advocate card and offered to create cards for other parents who have been trained.
December 09/March 2010
A good winter means that Thurston Mason Youth n' Action, a group that FAMH has been fostering, gains its own funding through Division of Behavioral Health & Recovery, DSHS that will contract with a Mason county non-profit that has multiple skill-building programs for youth in Shelton through Yes! Technology. These include a bicycle recycle, horticulture, computer lab, recording studio and others.
Mason parents trained in the wraparound process met in February to receive their certificates and update each other on how family teams were progressing. Families want to meet monthly and invite parents that were not trained in the process to upcoming meetings.
Core parent planning teams continue to determine agendas, create (Thurston parent) and disseminate flyers in both counties. Thurston/Mason NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) presented information for Thurston families including the offer to sign up for a free Family-to-Family 12 week course.
Parent leadership activity nights in Shelton are planned in March through an RTL (Readiness to Learn) partnership workgroup that includes FAMH's project director and will include a FAMH presentation.
The FAMH network currently has over 30 partnerships in progress and nearly 70 members in two counties and is supported by a half-time director and volunteers.
October 2011 through January/February 2012
FAMH experimented with an expansion from one meeting each month to 4 events each month to offer choices with different days and times each month.
FAMH's director created the Family Alliance for Mental Health Family Facilitated Wraparound Starter Kit. This was done in an effort to ensure that families would have access to the wraparound process, regardless of whether they met criteria for the formal funded wraparound offered by the Mason Thurston Wraparound Initiative (MTWI). A FAMH wraparound training in Mason county for families kicked off conversations that led to the development of the MTWI.
Late Spring 2012
FAMH began to pilot a once-a-month respite to provide activities and dinner for kids on Saturday evenings and 3 hours (from 4-7 pm) for parents to do as they wish.
FAMH expanded staff with no additional funding so that Mason and Thurston counties, would each have their own coordinator.
Parent meetings began to follow a modified wraparound style process so that meetings gained structure and every parent could share, receive ideas, strategies from other parents and leave with a solution or goal to work on until the next meeting.
Respite pilot begins every second Saturday of the month from 4-7 pm in Lacey. No pre-registration. Faith Lutheran donates the space with their buildings and multiple playgrounds, ball field and basketball court. Kids enjoy a meal and games inside together.
FAMH held its 3rd Annual July Picnic hosted by a family at their private lakeside residence. Each year families bring their children and enjoy activities such as swimming, boating and a BBQ potluck.
All parent network meetings follow a wraparound style solutions based agenda bringing consistency to the network.
Yelm parent network discussion begins and a request to re-start meetings on the west side of Olympia at Evergreen Vista Apartments community center.
Aberdeen parent network meetings begin on August 17, 2012 with a parent volunteer and donated support from Family Alliance.
Yelm parent network begins on 2nd Wednesdays. Locations have been secured for re-starting a west Olympia group at Evergreen Vista Apartments and at Faith in Lacey for parents of drug/alcohol affected children and youth.
Spanish message line is set up with interpreters on call. Interpreters are being used at monthly meetings in Shelton. Parents from both counties are invited to monthly Family Alliance planning meetings, Additional volunteers are available to support parents at school meetings. New volunteer supports Facebook page, Coffee News marketing and communication about respite. Mason Coordinator continues to support increasing outreach and growth for the parent network. Training for additional website maintenance support begins. Family voice experiences growth with increased participation at community meetings in both counties for the child consensus teams, wraparound steering committee and the integrated case management team in Thurston.
Summer through Winter of 2013
We moved our summer picnic in Thurston to the Athletic center on Marvin Road in Lacey. Lots of parking and great facilities including playgrounds and walk paths. The Mason area summer picnic was also held at a new location on the (salt) water at a park with playgrounds and both of our picnics had a covered cook area with picnic tables. We have a new Thurston Coordinator and Military Liaison. 5 parents completed special ed boot camp training. All that needed a scholarship, received one for this training. 20 parents participated in Right Response de-escalation training. During the fall we added a Ph.D. Psychologist to our volunteers that are willing to present and have conversations with families and he is also a dad, parent of a child with special needs. Our dad's group is running strong and we've added a mom's group in both counties.
Spring of 2014
Current groups consist of...two groups that meet monthly in Shelton, one for parents and the other for mom's. Dad's have their own group that meets once a month in Olympia and we have other groups in Tumwater and Hoquiam that meet every month. Over 20 families attended the event led by our Ph.D. Psychologist, focusing on family stress and self-care, his specialty. This was his second time, donating his time to support families as a speaker. A master's level therapist and parent of a special needs young adult joined Family Alliance as a volunteer, willing to do any job and is currently doing phone work for us. Participation in our monthly parent leadership group has increased. These parent leaders make decisions on all functions of Family Alliance. We hit a high with 48 surveys completed by parents in March 2014. The surveys are collected at every function from parents who are willing to fill them out. They ask whether parents find Family Alliance to be helpful; how Family Alliance has helped them and if there are any changes they would like to see to improve Family Alliance. The parent leadership reviews each and every survey at monthly meetings. Surveys are anonymous and are sent each month (also) to our funding source. Parent leaders approved the addition of a 'spiritual resources' category on the website to list places of worship open to families of children, youth or individuals with mental health needs. This is an area where families experience loss and Family Alliance made the decision to respond to that need.
Summer of 2014
Picnics in the Park will start in June and run through August (every other week). A different park each time - locations TBD. Parents can bring their children/youth and favorite lunch items and gather with other families. We are also re-starting parent presentations, Parents Empowering Parents in June, July and August. Annual picnics--August for the Thurston picnic and September for the Mason picnic are on the calendar.
Winter of 2015
A 'boundaries working group' was started at Faith Lutheran in the evenings with childcare based on materials by Cloud and Townsend. This group led by the North Thurston Area Coordinator is set to end with a celebration in May.
Spring of 2015
The Special Event event in May hosts representatives from Mobile Crisis Stabilization Services and the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.
Parent planners are working on the schedule of evening meetings at Faith Lutheran. There will be a continued evening meeting once a month at that location. Outreach to families beyond the parent planner group will be pursued before making final decisions.
Finalization of the Family Alliance Camp Prime Time reservations is in progress. The Thurston County Coordinator and Military Liaison is the contact. There has been a good response and so much interest that a wait list has been put in place for this, our first year as host.
Plans for summer and fall picnics in Thurston and Mason counties respectively, were finalized.
2016, 2017, 2018
There was a shift to support connections with parents online. During these years a closed parent/caregiver-only Facebook page was created and named 'Family Alliance for Mental Health Tulips' group. Coordinators started more support via phone, but using video-chat.
The Thurston mom's group moved from Izzy's restaurant to Good Shepherd Lutheran church in Olympia. The space is a large central room with two restrooms and two other smaller rooms adjacent to the large space, for use when needed. This is located in an out building on the campus and is on the lower floor with lots of windows. The space is very quiet and a low sensory environment. A new brochure was made just for this group and emphasizes that all moms are welcome.
The Family Alliance Coordinators had already been working to create an online space for support groups in the Fall of 2019 and were ready and able to covert to online Zoom support groups when families were asked to stay home due to COVID 19 restrictions. Weekly online meetings were started along with text reminders for those who wanted them. The dads support continued and in 2020 both the Olympia and Belfair groups met in person with use of masks and social distancing. Family Alliance continues to have a strong presence at the System of Care Partnership meetings as well.