In 2005, MHA again agreed to take on a challenge in service 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. It was originally anticipated that the new organization would pursue full independence once it has 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 continues to offer individual and group peer support. MHA continues to be an active participant in what was the One Community Partnership (OCP) and is currently OCP2 which reflects the inclusion of transitional youth.
The Mental Health Association has evolved from a core of dedicated activists to an established agency which provides direct services to the community and to the mental health consumer population, the focus of its values and services agenda. As indicated, the Association attempts to serve as a “convener, a coordinator and a collaborator” in working to promote the community’s agenda for mental wellness. The Mental Health Association’s strength is in its membership of dedicated advocates and volunteers. MHA staff and volunteers are involved in the full range of community action in support of mental health and mental wellness for South Florida.
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).
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 evidenced based parenting curriculum with tracts for parent of infants, school-aged children and parents of 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, recently named The Roberta Eisenberg Room, allows us to offer pre/post observations to our parenting program.
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.