Family Involvement: A Means Not an End
By Michael R. Fraser, PhD CAE
One of the most rewarding aspects of my travels across the country is the chance to visit with family leaders to talk about interactions with their state Title V program (and vice versa) – did you know some of you truly are "rock stars" in the eyes of your colleagues from both the parent and professional perspective? While feedback on family involvement activities varies widely depending on the state program I am visiting, almost every Title V program has a formal connection with family leaders in their state. Yes, some states have a ways to go in truly supporting parent involvement in their work, such as naming an AMCHP Family Delegate – something that AMCHP is looking to promote in Title V programs nationwide – but there is great work going on in states to include families in the work of maternal and child health (MCH). That spirit of inclusion and involvement is the focus of this issue of Pulse: we want to promote family involvement in Title V programs and share the successes we have experienced in our work with families over many, many years.
Family involvement is a process, not just something that is checked off on a form or paid lip service to in a report or grant review. Family involvement is a means, not an end, and as such we are never truly "done" with our efforts to support family leadership. We can all work harder to ensure that the people we are working for and with have a meaningful voice in the programs designed to protect and promote their health. We can all do better in the way we partner with and engage families. The important point is that we move our activities forward and make them better, building on what we know to be effective practices and initiatives.
AMCHP efforts to support family involvement and promote family leadership start with our Family & Youth Leadership Committee – a group of family leaders and AMCHP members committed to promoting the family-professional partnership and moving states along in the process of family involvement. AMCHP Family Representatives on our Board serve an important leadership role in advising
and guiding AMCHP work with families and consumers. Our Family Scholars Program is a wonderful resource that builds the leadership competency of families and engages them in important national efforts to strengthen Title V both in their states and nationally. Our AMCHP staff includes family leaders in their own right, as well as peers we learn from and with every day.
If there was ever a time that we needed families involved in the work of AMCHP, that time is now. Faced with the reality of continued cuts to federal and state dollars for the Title V MCH Services Block Grant and other important MCH programs, AMCHP will continue to rely heavily on family leaders and partners to share the effects of those reductions here in Washington. As I quickly learned in my first days at AMCHP, the family voice is the foundation of Title V and we want to encourage AMCHP members and family leaders to share the impact of Title V in their lives with policymakers and leaders who are making decisions that impact women, children and families. We have extremely challenging times ahead and this is an incredible opportunity to expand the involvement of families in our work. So please join us in the process of family involvement. Use this issue of Pulse to get some great new ideas to springboard your commitment to the inclusion of and involvement with families!