By Michelle Jarvis
Family Engagement and Leadership Development Specialist, AMCHP
2016 was a great year for family engagement at AMCHP! We started the year by reimagining the role of our family leader on staff to emphasize that family engagement is cross-cutting. This change aligns the staff role with the expanding needs of family/consumer engagement, guarantees that families are part of the work we do across the organization and ensures that the family leader role receives proper organization support.
For example, AMCHP staff collaborated on training the family leaders in the AMCHP Leadership Lab on cultivating and sustaining relationships with their elected officials at the local and national levels. Staff also worked together to offer a training to all family leaders on how to understand data and use it to effectively enhance and underscore their stories and experiences.
Despite the challenges of rescheduling our annual conference, family engagement was again a main feature, with several integral sessions, activities and events. When asked to provide a brief description of their overall impressions from this year's conference general sessions, an attendee said, "The family-professional partnerships workshops were very educational, and new strategies were presented." Asked what the most beneficial aspect of the 2016 AMCHP Annual Conference was, another attendee responded, "The focus on family engagement."
One of the highlights of the year was the release of the survey report, Sustaining and Diversifying Family Engagement in Title V MCH and CYSHCN Programs. The report, a result of the family engagement survey conducted in 2014/2015, is composed of a summary of the results and a series of briefs that detail the results in specific areas. Each of those briefs can be reviewed here:
Family Engagement Executive Summary
Creating a Culture of Family Engagement
Levels of Family Engagement
Roles of Family Staff or Consultants
Family Members Employed as Staff
Sustaining and Diversifying Family Engagement
Evaluating Family Engagement
The information gathered from the survey prompted in-depth interviews with five states, resulting in two case studies. The case studies are:
Engaging Diverse Populations Case Study
Family Engagement Case Study
As we look ahead to this new year, we are excited to discover opportunities to engage families and consumers more broadly across MCH, share best practices related to family professional partnerships and ensure that families are supported and successful in their roles. Our staff, board, Family and Youth Leadership Committee, and strong network of family leaders are all committed to these goals. While we pursue partnerships broadly and work to create new paths, we will continue developing family leaders in our Leadership Lab, offering support through topical webinars and soliciting critical family/consumer participation in our work.
To learn more about how families are engaged with AMCHP, at the organizational, program and policy level, read our Family Engagement Fact Sheet.