Family-Driven Care

The Federation of Families supports and advocates for the concept of families, parents or other primary caregivers, at the center of decision-making, in caring for their child. They are the experts. As families navigate education and healthcare systems, they become knowledgeable participants and experts regarding what works or does not work for families. As a result, family members should be looked to in the development of programs and policies that determine care and education of our children.

The definition below was developed by families through the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health.

Definition of Family-Driven Care

“Family driven” means 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, state, tribe, territory, and nation.  This includes:

  • Choosing culturally and linguistically competent supports, services and providers;
  • Setting goals;
  • Designing, implementing, and evaluating programs;
  • Monitoring outcomes; and
  • Partnering in funding decisions.

Guiding Principles of Family-Driven Care

1.      Families and youth are given accurate, understandable, and complete information necessary to set goals and make choices for improved planning for individual children and their families.

2.      Families and youth, providers and administrators embrace the concept of sharing decision-making and responsibility for outcomes.

3.      All children, youth, and families have a biological, adoptive, foster, or surrogate family voice advocating on their behalf and may appoint them as substitute drivers at anytime.

4.      Families and family-run organizations engage in peer support activities to reduce isolation, gather and disseminate accurate information, and strengthen the family voice.

5.      Families and family-run organizations provide direction for decisions that impact funding for services’ treatments, and supports and allow families and youth to have choices.

6.      Providers take the initiative to change practice from provider driven to family driven.

7.      Administrators allocate staff, training, support and resources to make family-driven practice work at the point where services and supports are delivered to children, youth, and families and where family- and youth-run organizations are funded and sustained.

8.      Community attitude change efforts focus on removing barriers and discrimination created by stigma.

9.      Communities embrace, value, and celebrate the diverse cultures of their children, youth, and families and work to eliminate mental health disparities.

10.  Everyone who connects with children, youth, and families continually advances his/her own cultural and linguistic responsiveness as the population served changes.


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