In 2005, MHA agreed to provide support services to families of SED (severely emotionally disturbed) children. The project was titled FISH (Families Invested in Support & Health). FISH consisted of individual outreach, parent training and support groups. The County funding grant that supported this initiative also supported the MHA- Connections for Kids, guidebook (no longer funded for publication). Under the County-wide umbrella of “One Community Partnership,” the project was followed by additional initiatives, Family Involvement Coordination, Family Support Partners and the mandate to develop a new Family Run Organization that could take on a specific advocacy role for SED and at-risk families. Toward that mandate, MHA applied to IRS for “umbrella” status under which it can incorporate subsidiary organizations. That authority was approved in June 2007. The new family organization, Family Voices for Family Choices, was the first of MHA’s supported ventures. The new organization expected to pursue full independence once it established a fiscal and policy track record to make it eligible for sustained and independent funding. That goal was not realized as it became clear that the families needing the service were best served if their energy could be directed to their own families’ challenges. As a result, the Family Voices program at MHA offered individual and group peer support. Approximately 200 families a year received services. Families received support, learned self-advocacy, stress management, and access to resources in the community.
County funding was discontinued October 1, 2018. MHA continues to search for new funding to maintain services to families in Broward County. Families in need of support can call 211 for current resources.
MHA’s initial venture into parent training was as sponsor to the County’s first Parents Anonymous (PA) meeting 1977. PA offered parents an alternative to abusive behavior toward their children. In 1986, a community coalition was organized to expand the project and link it to a Tallahassee based PA host project. MHA was asked by the Coalition to serve as the lead agency and did take on that role. In 1988, Broward County, through its Children’s Services Administration Division, funded MHA’s expansion of the project. In subsequent funding cycles, MHA was able to document greater need and was awarded more funds. The project was modified to reflect its expanded services and became known as PEPS (Parent Education/Parent Support). In 2015, PEPS joined the initiative in Florida to standardize the Parent Education Services throughout the state. Through monthly state-wide meetings, MHA was part of an implementation team to develop protocols for improving the outcomes of Parent Education in the state of Florida. Appropriate curriculums were identified and staff were trained in evidence-based parent education for parents of children 0-18 years of age and evidence based behavioral observations for parents with children 0-5 years of age. MHA has been in the forefront of this initiative and continues to be a leader in providing high quality evidence- based curriculum today.
In 2016, MHA added a new service to our array, thanks to The Children’s Services Council of Broward County.
KINSHIP CARES provides support services to relative or nonrelative caregivers raising children when their biological parents are unable to do so. In collaboration with the Jim Moran Foundation, The Children’s Services Council funded program provides comprehensive case management services in-home and community. The purpose of Kinship Cares is to strengthen families and reduce risk for children who have already experienced significant trauma in their lives. Emphasis is placed on empowering the family, promoting self- definition, developing and improving decision-making strategies. Services include family assessments, navigating the school system, emergency financial assistance, information on public benefits, linking to career counseling and job training, respite care, support and parenting groups, training and self- advocacy, transportation assistance, linkage to healthcare and mental health services, assistance with affordable childcare and legal assistance.
In seeking out Kinship families to join our program, we are also hoping to engage relatives and non-relatives taking care of the children of their incarcerated family members.
PEPS is known as a prime parent training resource for the Broward Court and for Child Net as a result of its service competence. The program offers an evidence based parenting curriculum with tracts for parents of infants, school-aged children and teens. PEPS also offers individual services to parents who may, upon intake, present with unique problems that are not appropriate to the group/class model. PEPS receives well over 400 referrals annually. Primary funding for the project is now via Child Net. Our recently renovated children's playroom/observation room, named The Roberta Eisenberg Room, allows us to offer pre/post observations and supervised visitation for parents in our parenting program. Services are provided in Broward County jails, drug treatment centers and community locations around the county.
MHA-PEPS also provides fee-based parenting services for families needing supervised visitation and for families in need of specialized support during and after divorce through our Co-Parenting and Divorce Program.
Additionally, PEPS provides Anger Management classes and Child-Parent Psychotherapy.