Families as Allies was established in Mississippi in 1992 as the state chapter of the National Federation of Families and the only statewide organization run by and for families of children with mental health challenges. We support each other and work together to make things better for our children. Our mission is to make sure families are partners in their children’s care.  By that, we mean that our mission is the Mississippi’s system of care for children will be family-driven.

We provide direct support to families, train those working with families and work at the systems level to make sure that policies and systems are responsive to our children. We provide a wide range of training to families and those who work with families, often on family-driven practice and/or education advocacy.  We also are the trainer of record for parent peer support in the state.  The most common reason families call us is school issues, often because their child is about to get kicked out of school due to their behavior and the parent may be at risk for losing their job. We have trained hundreds of families how to serve on policy committees and been instrumental in getting system of care and other disability-related laws designed and enacted.

Mississippi has had several lawsuits in different systems related to discriminatory behavior toward children with disabilities and people with mental illness over the past fifteen years. We have used these lawsuits to help educate families and the general public about the rights of children with disabilities and people with mental illness and the importance of everyone being able to live in their homes and communities.  We have also been able to bring families together to inform lawyers in these suits about what they think needs to change, in part because of our heavy reliance on social media, blogging and our newsletter.

These lawsuits have given us the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with policy makers and the press as will and provide technical assistance to them about mental illness and recovery-oriented systems of care.  One reporter, Isabelle Taft, formerly of Mississippi Today, did an in-depth investigation on Mississippi’s mental health system and discovered that hundreds of people, some as young as eighteen, were routinely held in jail without charges during the civil commitment process. Sixteen people, including some young people, died while in jail, typically by suicide, The state appeared to have little, if any, knowledge of this. Legislators have passed at least two new laws in an attempt to address this. Our goal has been to make sure these laws are informed by the people and families most affected by them.

We have worked in more and more systems, including special health care needs, as we have grown over the years. We were absolutely thrilled to be awarded the F2F grant in 2022. The values of F2F – integrated care, family-centered practice, addressing disparities, resonate with what we believe to our core as an organization. We are so excited for what we are learning from the project and so many of you. Thank you for welcoming us to the F2F community.  We are delighted to be here and want to keep learning, including how we can give back and be supportive to all of you, too!

Joy Hogge, Executive Director

Visit our website at www.faams.org.

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Our Vision

With families at the center of health care, all children and youth reach their full potential and health disparities are eliminated.

Our Mission

Family Voices is a national organization and grassroots network of families and friends of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities that promotes partnership with families—including those of cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity—in order to improve health care services and policies for children.

In honor of