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Sustained Discussion 2013 Overview

Sustaining the Discussion Brief

Families in Partnership with Schools and Communities


In the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting, the Families in

Partnership with Schools and Communities practice group together with other family leaders from the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health (NFFCMH) and several Statewide Family Networks became concerned with the negative public discourse that was being substituted for a substantive discussion of the need for effective mental health supports. As families with the lived experience of raising children with mental health needs, we came together to discuss how to elevate the content of the public discourse and began with an open letter to the president that is posted on sharedwork and on the Children’s Mental Health Network at http://www.cmhnetwork.org/share-­‐your-­‐voice/family-­‐leaders-­‐call-­‐for-­‐ improved-­‐mental-­‐health-­‐capacity/family-­‐leaders-­‐sign-­‐on-­‐letter-­‐to-­‐the-­‐president . This initial letter uses the three tiered model to structure our recommendations; advocating for salient promotion, early intervention and intensive supports in succinct fashion and is to be followed with more substantial information elaborating on each level of support. Our ongoing work includes the following:

  • Sandra Spencer, executive director of the NFFCMH, brought our initial thoughts forward as a participant of the Vice President’s discussions around reducing gun violence.

  • We completed follow up documents on support of effective practices at each of the tiers.

    Tier 1 - Mental Health Promotion Document
    Tier 2 Targeted Early Intervention Document
    Tier 3 Effective Intensive Interventions Document

  • In response to concerns about families being put at risk by sharing their experiences in the age of the internet and information that perpetuates indefinitely, we are developing a guide for supporting family safety in public disclosures.

  • We will conduct a symposium for the upcoming Advancing Children’s Mental Health Conference to share the Family Media Safety Guide.

  • We are exploring how to best support the structures that support families such as the Statewide Family Networks as well as the diverse networks and organizations that focus on distinct areas of need.

  • There is an undeveloped overarching Community of Practice space on www.sharedwork.org (that is a collaborative effort to support best practices and solution finding in education facilitated by the IDEA Partnership and National Association of State Special Education Directors) entitled Family, School & Community Collaboration and we are hoping to invite autonomous family run networks to join us there to begin to build a place to tell each other about the work that we are doing. Then we might see where we can support one another’s work.

    We are calling ourselves the Sustained Discussion workgroup because in our first letter, we promised to sustain this conversation on what it is that children and families need to grow up healthy and happy.

    To follow our ongoing work, you are invited to connect with us eventually as we build a collaborative space on www.sharedwork.org (you are also welcome to explore that site in advance ... several of us participate in the CoP on School Behavioral Health) and talk to us now via email at talktomoms@gmail.com