The Mental Health of Our Students

The terrible situation in Newton Connecticut has focused national attention on the issue of mental health.  How can children and their families deal with the variety of life’s events impacting their lives? I have spoken to a friend of mine, Dr. Lynn Pedraza who is the National Executive Director of Family Voices ( )  for some suggestions:

Family Voices has worked for 20 years to support families of children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities all across the United States. As a national non-profit, Family Voices helps families make informed decisions, advocate for public and private policies that implement family-centered care, and build partnerships among professionals and families. In the last several years, Family Voices has expanded its work to provide resources and education for families to help all children have a healthy start in life, and stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well as they become adults.  Three of Family Voices programs are: the National Center for Family-Professional Partnerships (NCFPP), which assists family-led organizations nationwide; Project IMPACT, which creates and disseminates educational resources related to health and wellness throughout the life course; and Kids as Self Advocates (KASA), which supports kids and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities in gaining access to education, cultivating career skills, building self-confidence, community, and connection, and having a voice in the public policy arena. Information about each of these programs is available at .

As part of its work, Family Voices provides assistance to Family-to-Family Health Information Centers (F2F HICs) and Family Voices State Affiliate Organizations (SAOs) in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These organizations offer direct support to local families of children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities. For example, the F2F HICs and SAOs connect families to other families of children with similar needs, so the parents can help each other. They also advocate to help individual families receive the services they need, put them in touch with providers of medical care or equipment, give them training and education in how to navigate the healthcare system, and provide expertise in best ways to fund and set up care and education for children within the home when appropriate.

Visit or call (888) 835-5669 to find out more about Family Voices, or click on the state-by-state map or drop down menu to find a Family-to-Family Health Information Center or Family Voices State Affiliate Organization that can assist you or provide support for other families in your area.