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 Family Engagement & Leadership


Family Engagement in Title V Programs

Families contribute invaluable insight and experience to AMCHP programs and policies, advise us on the development of publications and programs, serve on committees and advisory workgroups and on the board of directors. Families also are a key audience for the AMCHP Annual Conference, our programs and resources. In our work with families, AMCHP strives to be intentional, thoughtful, and hold ourselves accountable to authentic engagement and partnership. In this spirit, we’ve developed these guiding principles and values to bolster our commitment, and to honor the unique value families bring to our work.

Family engagement and partnership is a critical element of AMCHP’s work. One of the many ways we partner with families, and ensure their perspective is part of the conversation, is with two Family Representative seats on our Board of Directors. Please click on the links below to hear directly from current and past family leaders about their experience serving in this position!

Dawn Bailey:

Susan Colburn:

Rodney Farley:

In collaboration with AMCHP’s Family LEAD Committee, we are excited to announce the publication of our new Family Delegate Guide (Guide)! The Guide will be a wonderful resource for both family leaders and state/territory Directors. It offers a comprehensive look at the Family Delegate role and provides information from what the Family Delegate role may look like, to training, to supports and services – and everything in between. This Guide will not only offer valuable information to support current Family Delegates, but will also provide those who do not currently have a Family Delegate with strategies to recruit one.

How states sustain and diversify engagement to improve quality

Families play a critical role in helping to improve maternal and child health services provided through the federal Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. AMCHP set out to measure and describe how programs funded by Title V work to sustain and diversify family and consumer engagement, which the block grant requires them to document.

In 2014 and 2015, AMCHP conducted a survey about family engagement policies and practices in Title V maternal and child health and children and youth with special health care needs programs, with funding from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health and the U.S. Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The findings provide a snapshot of strategies to support meaningful family engagement, effective and innovative practices, and areas of need for improvement and technical assistance.


The survey report  Sustaining and Diversifying Family Engagement in Title V MCH and CYSHCN Programs — is composed of a summary of the results and a series of briefs that detail the results in specific areas.

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

Case Studies


The case study reports provide examples of engaging families and engaging diverse populations from a total of five states.  

Engaging Diverse Populations Case Study
Family Engagement Case Study

About Family Engagement

Family participation (FP) plays an essential role in state Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) programs. Family members volunteer, advise and/or are employed by state Title V MCH, and/or Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) programs and bring unique insight and experience and are prepared to advocate on behalf of MCH. Family participation refers to individuals who are involved in a range of activities that engage families in the planning, development, and evaluation of programs and policies at the community, organizational and policy level. This issue brief highlights six states with differing levels of FP and what methods they employ to involve families.

The Family and Youth Leadership Committee has created an information sheet to briefly describe a variety of roles for family leaders within AMCHP.​​ AMCHP engages families at the organizational, program and policy level. To learn more about how families contribute to our vision, mission, and work, click here


 Family Delegate

Each Title V program paying dues may designate up to five delegates who have voting rights and the fifth delegate seat must be held by a family liaison to the Title V program. This delegate is called a ‘Family Delegate’. To learn more about family delegates, click here. To learn more about how a few states select and support their family delegates, take a look at AMCHP’s new Family Delegate Issue Brief here.  

For more information about family leaders and Health Reform, check out our latest report.   

 Family Leadership Development

Leadership Development at AMCHP

AMCHP believes that leaders can be developed by enhancing one's natural ability with learned skill development—through formal and informal learning opportunities, experience, dialogue, role modeling, feedback, mentoring, coaching, and more.  For over 20 years AMCHP has had leadership development programs for Families, MCH, Title V and CYSHCN Directors. 

All members of the state and territorial MCH programs are entrusted with carrying out the mission of Title V. As such, all Title V staff must exhibit leadership skills on a daily basis, from interacting with stakeholders to communicating the importance of Title V. AMCHP's new Leadership Lab program develops the entire Title V workforce.  The program allows Title V staff to learn from one another across the workforce (Family Leaders, new Title V and MCH Directors, CYSHCN Directors, Next Generation MCH Leaders (age 45 or less), and state Title V Epidemiologist), as well as those with similar roles.

The Leadership Lab requires a 10-month commitment by the participants from December through September.  During the program year, participants are matched with a mentor/peer and are charged with crafting an individual development plan, completing self-The program uses a three-pronged approach (shown above) that involves the following areas to drive all program activities: learning, mentoring, and peer-to-peer interaction.

  • Learning includes both formal and informal learning, through such events as on-the-job experience and interaction with peers, co-workers and mentors.
  • Mentoring/coaching  is the transmission of knowledge, wisdom, experience, and support from a more seasoned professional to a less-seasoned professional.  Each program participant (mentee) is matched with an experienced mentor through a selective application process.
  • Peer-to-peer interaction is used to facilitate learning in a group setting.  AMCHP uses a cohort model for  its leadership development programs to support this—activities are used to support cohort camaraderie and collaborative learning and help cohort members increase professional networks.

Program Purpose

The Leadership Lab is designed to provide representatives selected to participate in the program with the knowledge, tools and resources to enhance their development as MCH leaders to promote policies, programs, and systems at the national, state and or local-level that address important issues impacting the health and well-being of women, children, and families, including children and youth with special health care needs. 

Program Benefits

Participants in the Leadership Lab:

  • Gain a greater understanding of Title V
  • Increase their understanding of AMCHP
  • Widen their network of leaders, parent professionals, MCH and CYSHCN professionals
  • Receive mentoring from experienced MCH leaders
  • Personal transformation and mastery
  • Increase individual knowledge related to key topics
  • Increase individual knowledge related to MCH Leadership Competencies
  • Provide feedback on how to improve the Leadership Lab
  • Attend the AMCHP annual conference. In addition to developing leadership skills and building their network of MCH leaders, another key benefit of being selected as a participant is attending the AMCHP annual conference. Conference attendees have conference consistently praise the value of the conference as a way to network with other MCH professionals and Title V programs and to understand more clearly how Title V/MCHB Block Grant makes a difference in the lives of children, youth, families and communities.


The Leadership Lab is a 10-month development program guided by the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Leadership Competencies.  The MCH Leadership Competencies fall into three domains of leadership development: self, others, and the wider community.

MCH Leadership Competencies which may be addressed through Leadership Lab components:

  1. MCH knowledge base
  2. Self-Reflection
  3. Ethics/Professionalism
  4. Critical thinking
  5. Communication
  6. Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  7. Cultural competency
  8. Family centered care
  9. Developing Others
  10. Working with communities and systems
  11. Policy and advocacy
  12. Interdisciplinary Team Building

For more information on the MCH Leadership Competencies, visit:  

Leadership Lab Activities

In-person meeting.  The Leadership Lab features an in-person meeting in Washington, DC at the 2016 AMCHP Annual Conference in January 2016.

Distance Learning.  The program features virtual trainings on specific topics. In addition to virtual trainings, participants may be assigned program readings or monthly stretch assignments (Family Leaders program) to support learning and development. 

Individual Development Plan. Development planning is an on-going, evolutionary process and the Leadership Lab Individual Development Plan (IDP) provides the structure to support participants in creating goals that positively impact and support their growth as leaders.

Mentor/Mentee Relationship.  Leadership Lab participants (New Director Leaders and Family Leaders) are matched with a mentor and participate in individual virtual mentoring calls and group mentoring calls.

Peer-to-peer Support. Leadership Lab participants receive peer-to-peer support through a SharePoint site for participants only, networking on webinars, emails, and group mentee calls. 

 National Resources

Catalyst Center

The Catalyst Center is a national center dedicated to improving health care coverage and financing for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN).  

Family Voices

Family Voices is a national, nonprofit, family-led organization promoting quality health care for all children and youth, particularly those with special health care needs. Working with family leaders and professional partners at the local, state, regional, and national levels since 1992, Family Voices has brought a respected family perspective to improving health care programs and policies and ensuring that health care systems include, listen to, and honor the voices of families.  

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) 

Parent to Parent USA

Emotional & Informational support for families of children who have special needs. For over 36 years Parent to Parent programs across the country have been providing emotional and informational support to families of children who have special needs most notably by matching parents seeking support with an experienced, trained 'Support Parent'. 

National Center for Family Professional Partnerships

Providing Leadership in helping families of children and youth with special health care needs / disabilities and professionals partner to improve care.