Free Cultural Competence Trainings:Clermont FAST TRAC offers the opportunity for FREE training for your organization on the topic of diversity and the workplace.  Currently, we are offering the program “OUCH!  That Stereotype Hurts-Communicating Respectfully in a Diverse World,” based on the book by Leslie C Aguilar and produced and distributed by Joel Leskowitz, Sunshower Learning.

Youth Leadership Academy Update: We are halfway through the first FAST TRAC Youth Leadership Training and I would like to highlight some of the things we have done so far.  One thing we have focused on is growing as a group.  The youth completed the low ropes course at Woodland Lakes, in which the youth had to work as a group to accomplish different tasks.

FAST TRAC 2013 So Far: So many great things are going on within the FAST TRAC System of Care, I am not quite sure where to begin.

Evaluation Update & Brief: The UC Evaluation team is looking forward to what spring will bring.  Over the past few months, FAST TRAC program staff and UC have been focusing on partnering more effectively in order to bolster recruitment and retention of participants in the National Evaluation, as well as to streamline data collection at the local level.

Sibshop Update: A rare opportunity to train and learn how to facilitate Sibshops came to Clermont County through Clermont FAST TRAC, a system of care initiative of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, funded by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Staff Highlight – Cyndi Mather:  Cyndi has a unique perspective in her role as Peer Support Partner.  She and her family have gone through the Wraparound process prior to her being hired as a Peer Support Partner.

My Feelings are a Work of Art:  Clermont FAST TRAC is participating in the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day initiative, My Feelings Are a Work of Art, throughout the month of May.  The initiative raises awareness of children’s mental health needs; demonstrates how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in the community.

Evaluation 2013:  FAST TRAC national and local evaluation efforts continue to move full speed ahead into 2013. Happily, recruitment for the National Evaluation has been on the upswing with 95 youth and caregivers now having completed baseline interviews.

Respite:  The FAST TRAC Respite Program offers an opportunity for children/youth to interact with peers, develop social skills, and participate in a wide variety of activities in a small-group setting. Respite offers children/youth an opportunity to join in games and activities that encourage group membership.

Success Story:  Our family had a excellent outcome from our wraparound meetings.They have given us a lot of valuable information and tips, also great ideas on how to help us on trying to help our child deal with the problems he was having.

Youth Leadership Training:  The first Youth Leadership Training series will begin on February 9th from 10am to 2pm.  It will be held the second Saturday of the month from February through May at 1074 Wasserman Way in Batavia.

Staff Highlight- Justin Volk:  Justin Volk has been with Family & Children First as a Wraparound Facilitator since October.  He grew up in Harrison, Ohio and graduated from Harrison High School.

Family-driven: A System of Care Philosophy:  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.”

Annual Holiday Traditions:  For the past several years, the families, staff and friends of FAST TRAC have gathered in December for an annual Holiday Traditions Celebration.  This year’s celebration was another rousing success for all involved.

Federation Conference Updates:  The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health Conference, held in Washington, D.C., provided an opportunity to engage with other families and organizations from across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Guam in a sharing way that gave insight to the mental health movement and goals for the upcoming year.

SibShops are Coming to Cincinnati:  SibShops are coming to Cincinnati thanks to Clermont FAST TRAC, a system of care initiative of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board, funded by a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Holiday Traditions:  FAST TRAC families will be joining together to share their food and cultural traditions at the annual FAST TRAC Holiday Traditions Celebration.  Each year, families get together and share things like piñatas, Spanish Christmas Carols, and, of course, food!

Staff Highlight- Rachael Feldman:  Rachael Feldman is the newest member on the FAST  TRAC Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health (GCB) Transition to Independence (TIP) team.  She came to GCB right after graduating from UC with her Masters in Social Work and has obtained her Licensed Social Worker (LSW) status.

Success Story:  Kimberly started the Clermont Transition to Independence Process (TIP) Program back in October 2010.  She states that during this time, she was “homless and acting a fool.”  Kimberly has had many difficult life related obstacles that she has worked very hard at overcoming during the last two years.

Youth Update: We held the first of our quarterly youth engagement events, a bowling tournament, on September 22nd.  Everyone had a great time hanging out, bowling, and eating pizza.

Wraparound News and Notes:  We welcomed Justin Volk as our newest facilitator on 10/1/12.  Justin comes to us from Clermont Mercy Hospital, where he worked in the Adult Psychiatry Unit.

Project Director Update:  It’s hard to believe that we just began Year 4 of our SAMHSA grant.  As we entered into Year 4, I took some time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished in 3 years (2 years of service provision).

Evaluation Update:  The last six months has seen a number of developments for the UC Evaluation Team. One highlight is our work on the Wraparound Fidelity Index or “WFI”.

Peer Support Bootcamp:  Three very positive and compassionate professionals engaged 24 Peer Support Partners (PSPs) from Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan in an intense and focused two day training on September 20-21.

Wrap Success Story:  I have two special needs children.  People think they understand.  But they don’t.   Even other parents of special needs children don’t understand what my particular challenges are, and I don’t understand theirs.  Special needs children, like all people, are different.

Candlelight Vigil:  The Clermont County Suicide Prevention Coalition will host its 11th annual candlelight vigil to remember, honor, and cherish the lives of those individuals lost to suicide in Clermont County over the past year.  Five million living Americans have lost a close family member or friend to suicide.

Wrap Camp Wrap-Up:  This summer, FAST TRAC has been providing a social experience, called Wrap Camp, for up to 15 wraparound youth twice a week.  We have had a lot of fun playing laser tag, bowling, playing carnival games, riding go carts, playing water games and a lot of other things.

Staff Highlight- Jeff Miracle: Jeff Miracle is a new member of the FAST TRAC Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health (GCB) Transition to Independence Process (TIP) team, however he has been working with GCB’s Homeless Adult ACT team since 2008.

Cultural Competence Tips from Georgetown University Training Institutes:  FAST TRAC staff recently attended Georgetown University’s Training Institutes.  At the Institutes, we learned about a program that works within the faith-based community, called Open Table.  The Open Table model provides faith communities with a proven process to transform individuals and families in poverty.

Family Leadership 2013 Enrolling Now!  What a successful first Family Leadership Series!  We started with eighteen participants in session one and eighteen completed session eight!   Individuals saw their skills expand, their belief in themselves soar, and are now ready to facilitate some of the sessions in the 2nd group!

Early Childhood Mental Health:  Child Focus, Inc. has long valued the importance of Early Childhood Mental Health. As such, we are dedicated to expanding and improving our services each year. Child Focus, Inc. has the unique privilege to have a team of three mental health professionals who specialize in serving the early childhood population.

Project Director Update:  Every summer, the FAST TRAC team attends a national conference hosted by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration).  A family member and youth also attend as part of the team.  This year, the conference was held in sunny Orlando, Florida.

Be a Cultural Explorer This Summer:  Summertime is the perfect time to be a cultural explorer.  All around your community are festivals with food, music and dancing that honors a particular culture.  German, Irish, Hispanic, Greek, and Appalachian are just a few of many festivals you and your family can enjoy.

Youth Trac Overview:  The Trauma & Resiliency Family & Youth Conference was held on May 5th.  Youth from Clermont County, as well as Southeast Indiana & Hamilton County participated. In the morning, there were two great presentations by Youth Move Ohio.

Evaluation: Why is It Important?  It is important to evaluate the services that children, youth, and families involved with Clermont FAST TRAC receive.  FAST TRAC strives to provide high quality, effective, and cost efficient services to families who are raising a youth with mental health challenges and who are involved with multiple systems (Mental Health and Juvenile Court, Children’s Services, or Developmental Disabilities).

Staff Highlight:  Becky was originally hired through the FAST TRAC System of Care in January 2010 in the position of the Youth Engagement Specialist.  She later made a decision to change her focus to the “family” as she felt the youth specialist should be a younger person who is experiencing the world in much the same manner as the youth.  

Family & Youth Conference a Success!  Apprehension, excitement, and panic were felt by many of us as we spent months preparing for the Family and Youth Conference held on May 5, 2012!  In the midst of all the excitement and clamor to make sure everything was in place to best support families and youth, the church provided us the full day prior to the conference for setup.

Resiliency Ring 2012:  On May 10, 2012, Children’s Mental Health Day, a group of Clermont County families traveled to Columbus to participate in the 8th Annual Resiliency Ring.  The Resiliency Ring’s focus is to bring awareness to the issue of children’s mental health and the need for continued funding for services through testimonials, awards, and the formation of a human ring around the Capitol Building.

Our Wraparound Experience:  The Clermont FAST TRAC Wraparound process was a great success for our family.  We are now able to work better as a unit and listen to each other more effectively.  Our family has been through other collaborative efforts in several other states. Finally, after moving here to Clermont County, we really made progress.

My Feelings are Work of Art 2012:  Clermont FAST TRAC participated in the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day initiative, My Feelings Are a Work of Art, throughout the month of May.  The initiative raises awareness of children’s mental health needs; demonstrates how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in the community.

Jean Houston Wins State Award:  Jean Houston, co-founder of Families Connected, a grass roots family advocacy organization has received the 2012 Resiliency, Advocacy and Justice Award from The Ohio Department of Mental Health. For years, Jean has worked tirelessly for the children and families of Clermont County, most often with little to no pay for her efforts. Jean has a desire to support youth and families in obtaining the services and educational supports that they need to succeed.

School-Based Introduction:  The Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board has funded School-based Mental Health Services in all Clermont County school districts for many years.  The service is provided through a contract with Child Focus, Inc. and has grown over the years to include more school buildings and increased hours in high need school buildings.

School-Based Mental Health:  School-based Mental Health Services are provided in the school setting to meet students in an environment that is natural, minimizing the stigma associated with mental health services and to minimize the barrier of transportation that often prevents youth from receiving the services they need.

Free Cultural Book Club for Clermont County Residents:  Learning about culture can be fun and FAST TRAC provides a Book Club to residents, families and professionals living or working in Clermont County.  Reading stories or memoirs about other people, places and issues and discussing books with others give participants an enjoyable and challenging way to learn about culture.

Meet Wraparound Facilitator Bree Benjamin:  Bree Benjamin has worked with children, adolescents and families for the past 13 years. She has held a variety of positions including Clermont County Juvenile Probation Officer, Pre Sentence Investigator for Clermont County Juvenile Court, Administrative Assistant for West Clermont School District and now currently a Wraparound Facilitator for Clermont County Family and Children First.

Join Our Youth Trac at the Family & Youth Trauma & Resiliency Conference:  Come join us for our Family & Youth Conference on Saturday,May 5 from 9 to 4pm at Mt. Carmel Christian Church.  Youth 13 & older are invited to attend the Youth portion of our Conference. 

National Evaluation:  As a caregiver to youth with behavioral challenges, you are probably familiar with FAST TRAC’s  System of Care programs and services, such as Wraparound, TIP, Peer Support Partners, increased school-based mental health services and early childhood mental health.

My Feelings are a Work of Art:  Clermont FAST TRAC is participating in the National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day initiative, My Feelings Are a Work of Art, throughout the month of May.  The initiative raises awareness of children’s mental health needs; demonstrates how children’s mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and shows how children with mental health needs thrive in the community.

Family and Youth Conference for Clermont Families: On Saturday, May 5, families and youth are invited to attend the Trauma and Resiliency Conference, organized and facilitated by Families Connected and parent leaders. Funding for the conference is provided by Clermont FAST TRAC.  This event is open to the community at no cost.

Why Should Youth Voice Be Heard?  Youth Voice is about the “perspectives, ideas, experiences, knowledge, and actions of young people” and is very valuable.  It is the agent for change in the way youth are looked at in their community and across the country.  Youth are now respected as important partners – all this because youth had the courage to speak up and use their voice.

Abriendo Puertas comes to Clermont County:  Child Focus, Inc. in collaboration with Clermont FAST TRAC, is bringing the first evidenced-based parent leadership and advocacy curriculum for Latino Families to Clermont County: Abriendo Puertas or Opening Doors, a program designed in partnership with Latino parents to support their role as their child’s first and most important teacher.

Clermont FAST TRAC Staff Spotlight:  Rebecca was the first person hired by the FAST TRAC System of Care to support families enrolled in the Wraparound process.  She is always looking for information to support families and is open to any type of training and information.

Family Leadership Training Program:  One of the most rewarding endeavors I have undertaken as the FAST TRAC Lead Family Contact is the privilege of organizing and facilitating our Family Leadership Training program. This is an 8 month program for families who have children with mental health challenges to grow their knowledge of systems and confidence in advocating for their child and others, and to expand their support system.

What is Peer Support?  In this issue of the FAST TRAC newsletter, the Peer Support Partner program is highlighted.   If you  asked Jean Houston and Brenda Cox , Co-Founders of Families Connected, 3 years ago if they ever thought they would see the day where families, youth and professionals are working together so closely, all for the same purpose, I bet they would have said, “No way.” 

How do I become more culturally competent?   The first place to start is always with yourself.  What is your cultural background?  Are there any family stories about how your family came to America?  It can be fascinating to learn about your family history.  Genealogy can be helpful and so can talking to family members, especially older ones.

What does it mean when we say FAST TRAC is Youth Guided?  It means that youth have a right to speak (and they are encouraged to do so) and be a part of the decisions being made about the services they receive.  We also believe that youth should have the opportunity to become educated and receive information that will help them make informed decisions.

Have you been hearing the phrase “Family-driven” in conversations recently?   Have any idea what that means regarding the provision of services to families?  The idea that forcing information or services on people and they will comply is, and has always been, contradictory to the human belief that we are all capable of making constructive choices about our own needs when given the facts to make an informed decision.

What is TIP?  In this issue of the FAST TRAC newsletter, the TIP program is highlighted.  The TIP program is for transition-aged youth, ages 16-21, to help them transition to adulthood with the skills necessary to be a productive member of our community.

Why TIP?  The TIP Program (Transition to Independence Process) provided here in Clermont County by Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services through Clermont FAST TRAC, has recently celebrated its one year of operation mark.  TIP works with Youth/Young Adults between the ages of 16-21 to help them build skills to transition into adulthood more successfully.

Clermont FAST TRAC Staff Spotlight:  Jennifer Kleier came to Clermont County TIP after serving as a Young Adult Case Manager at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services for 2 years. Jennifer has been a Transition Facilitator on the Clermont County TIP team for the past year. 

My Feelings Gallery Reception Was a Success!  UC Clermont Park National Bank Art Gallery hosted Clermont FAST TRAC’S My Feelings are a Work of Art Show.  Eight youth ambassadors/artists came to represent their artwork and play music for the evening.  Youth did an incredible job of talking about their artwork and answered questions from over 90 youth, family and community members.

Welcome to our first FAST TRAC newsletter!   We hope that you find our newsletter informative and please let us know what questions you may have or what you might like to see in a future issue.  Let me start out by answering the question, “What is a System of Care?”  A System of Care is a philosophy of how services should be delivered. 

Why Wraparound?:  The Clermont FAST TRAC wraparound program, provided through Clermont County Family and Children First, is a unique planning process for children, adolescents and families. The process is designed to emphasize family voice and choice in the decision making process. Each family has a team made up of professional and natural supports that they have selected to help identify needs and develop strategies for meeting them. 

What is Cultural Competence?:  Culture is the collectively agreed –upon knowledge, experience, values, ideas, attitudes, skills, tastes, and techniques that are passed on from more experienced members of a community to new members.  Linguistic competence refers to language as the major transmitter of culture.  Some of the major carriers of culture include families, religious organizations, peer groups, neighbors and social groups.

What’s Youth-Guided?:  So when you hear the term “youth-guided care,” what exactly does that mean? It means that youth have an important voice that needs to be heard. Youth should be involved as decision makers in policies and procedures that affect them and other youth in their community. This includes youth having the opportunity to sit on workgroups and boards as well as their own decision making advisory board. Youth also have the opportunity to choose and participate in trainings that will help them in becoming productive members of our community.

Attention Family Members! Leadership Training!:  For many of you, I have been around to see your children grow from newborn to teen and beyond.  Some of you are new faces, and do not know me well.  I have been advocating for people since the early years of my daughter’s life.  She was born in the late sixties, and many of the supports in place at this time were not available in those days prior to the special education act in 1975 requiring schools to educate all children regardless of their disability.  

My Feelings at the UC Clermont Art Gallery!:  The Park National Bank Art Gallery is hosting My Feelings are a Work of Art from September 6-28, 2011.  The public is welcome to attend a reception at the gallery on September 28, 4-7 p.m. Youth who participated in My Feelings are a Work of Art, designed displayed artwork, their parents and community members will also be attending.

Clermont FAST TRAC Wins National Award:  The beautiful Windy City (Chicago) was the location for the Summer 2011 System of Care Community Training, July 19-21.  Clermont FAST TRAC brought a team of 15 to the conference, 6 of whom were parents and youth.  The training is a bi-annual gathering of current System of Care (SOC) grantees and provides the opportunity to learn more about how other SOCs are enhancing family-driven care, youth-guided care, cultural and linguistic competence, sustainability and evaluation efforts.   

Clermont FAST TRAC Staff Spotlight:  Bill Hobstetter came to Clermont County FAST TRAC after serving for 5 years with the KEYS system of care in Northern Kentucky. He started as a Family Liaison working with families in Covington, KY and then moved into the role of Family-Driven Evaluation Coordinator for Kentucky Partnership for Families and Children, a state-wide, family organization. During this time he also served on several state-wide and national committees for children’s mental health. Prior to working in the systems of care, Bill served for 12 years as youth minister /worship leader in Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio, and Illinois.


Welcome to the Youth Voice in Policy:  A Guide to Shaping History! In this guide you will learn the basic skills you need to advocate for the issues you feel are important. This guide was made spe­cifically for youth who have received mental health services and who have experienced multiple child-serving systems. Sharing that experience is a key part of effective advocacy.

“Putting a New Face on Mental Health” was the theme Oct. 15 for the fifth annual Celebration of Hope and Heroes Awards. The event is sponsored each year by the Partnership for Mental Health, Inc. and recognizes individuals in recovery from a mental illness as well as heroes in the community who assist those with mental illness to overcome obstacles.

Children’s Mental Health Day “National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day and Mental Health Month is really all about raising awareness that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth,” said Gretchen Behimer, Clermont FAST TRAC Project Director.