Crookston– The Northwest Minnesota Foundation recently awarded a grant for $25,000 to the Tri-Valley Opportunity Council to begin planning and implementing a Family Voice and Choice Network.
The project is an outgrowth of a large federal grant that helped to meet the needs of children and youth with mental health issues and their families. While efforts did result in improved services, access to those services needs improvement to make them more family-friendly and family-driven.
The Family Voice and Choice Network will be developed to address problems that remain, including parents comfort in sharing needs with service providers; lack of sharing opportunities and support networks for parents; no parental involvement in the development of policies affecting families; service providers who don’t always hear the parent perspective or priorities; and inability of service providers and parents to work together.
The new network will be piloted in seven counties in northwest Minnesota. The goal is to create a one-stop resource for promoting family-driven services across all areas of service delivery to families.
According to Project Manager Tracey Sundeen, the program builds upon the foundation of services and relationships in the region. “We will incorporate the philosophies and approaches in the Network that are capable of bringing an organized strategy and an array of service to every community.”
The approach will require an intentional change in the current service delivery system. During the next two years, TVOC will discuss the network purpose with service providers and parents. They will create a steering committee to guide the process through facilitated meetings and trainings. Other actions involve marketing, adding members to the Network, and addressing sustainability issues.
Jim Steenerson, NMF program officer for grants said that TVOC has an abundance of personal and professional experience in children’s mental health. “The staff is well-qualified to implement the Network project. Additionally, a collaborative representing over 50 human service and educational organizations has indicated support for the project.”