Family-driven: A System of Care Philosophy:

Written by:  Gretchen Behimer, FAST TRAC Project Director


As you are aware, one of the key components to a successful system of care is that the system of care be family-driven.  Family-driven is defined as “families have a primary decision making role in the care of their own children as well as the policies and procedures governing care for all children in their community.”   I want to share an example of how Clermont County has embraced family-driven care and really listens to family members about how to make the system better for families.

Clermont FAST TRAC and Families Connected began Family Leadership Training (FLT) in Fall 2011.  Eighteen family members participated in the first FLT and spent one Saturday each month learning about the various systems in the county, how to work effectively in groups and on Boards, and how to advocate for what they need.  The first FLT series was a great success and a 2nd group of family members are now participating in FLT.

Through discussion among the first group of FLT members, a common theme of trauma was heard over and over again.  Not only had many of the FLT members experienced trauma in their past, they oftentimes felt traumatized having to tell their family’s story and in working with various agencies.  Two FLT graduates spearheaded an effort to have additional support for the families.  They wrote a wonderful proposal about the need for a trauma group for family members who are involved with FAST TRAC.  The proposal was sent to me and Karen Scherra, the Executive Director of the Mental Health & Recovery Board.  A meeting then occurred with LifePoint Solutions (an adult mental health service provider), myself, Karen, Jean Houston (FAST TRAC Lead Family Contact), a Peer Support Partner, and one of the parents.  Great discussion occurred during this meeting and the decision to pursue a trauma-focused group for parents was made.  A second meeting occurred with LifePoint Solutions, Jean, and the parent to review a curriculum (S.E.L.F.) that LifePoint was interested in using with the group. Once again, the meeting was productive and we are in the process of moving forward with a group.

This is a great example of how family members help shape the system of care and a reminder that families really do make a difference!

Families Connected News

Many changes are coming to Families Connected, the family organization providing peer to peer support to families enrolled in Wraparound. 

First of all, Families Connected now has tax exempt status, which means we are a non-profit group and are eligible to apply for grants, as well as, accept donations and hold fundraisers. We have been able to provide services for a number of years through the ongoing support from the Clermont County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DD), who has given us space to house our parent leaders, and contracts through anumber of agencies. 

Clermont FAST TRAC, through the Mental Health & Recovery Board, will now be contracting directly with Families Connected for the Lead Family Contact and the Peer Support Partner positions to support families who have children with mental health and behavioral challenges. Families Connected also provides parent leaders to provide support to parents involved with the Help Me Grow program through a contract with Clermont County DD.  Additionally, two parent leaders provide educational support to families within the county.  Educational support is not funded by any contracts, but is provided by the parent leaders volunteering their time. 

Another change occurring is that the Lead Family Contact role will now be a shared position as I reduce the number of hours I work.  Becky Ploucha, who is currently a Peer Support Partner (PSP), will be sharing the position while maintaining a reduced number of families on her PSP caseload.  We have just welcomed our newest PSP, Sharon Craig, and she is very excited to be meeting and talking with families.

Thanks to the support provided by FAST TRAC, Families Connected will have the opportunity for sustainability to continue providing services and supports to families.  We want to offer caregivers the opportunity to join the FAST TRAC Advisory group, become involved in workgroups or enroll in the upcoming leadership series which will begin in early 2014.  We have had 25 Family Leadership graduates to date and most of them have become involved within the community as trainers, advocates for others, interviewers for FAST TRAC, Parent Representatives on the Family and Children First Council, members of the Governing Board of Families Connected, or part of the Family Advisory Council for FAST TRAC and Families Connected.  Family members are encouraged to participate in our family activities and to assist with planning the Family and Youth Conference planned for May 2014.  Awareness of the importance of peer support is widely embraced by many in the field of human services. Participation in any of the above mentioned areas can help spread the word about the importance of peer support.

The opportunity to establish a Sibshop series for the brothers and sisters of youth with disabilities has also been made possible through FAST TRAC.  The series starts on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at the Child Focus Training Center in Mt Carmel.  Trained parents, who were trained by Don Meyer, the creator of Sibshops, along with myself, will be facilitating the three hour sessions.  

Families Connected is an organization comprised of parents or caregivers of children and adults who have children with disabilities and strive to assist families to self-advocate for their children, as well as, learn how to advocate for others as they navigate systems for their own children.   Their mission: “To support and connect families who have a member with a disability.” Phone number: 513-732-5034 Website: