Family Support Partner Services
A Family Support Partner (FSP) is a parent or caregiver of a child with developmental, mood, behavioral, or emotional challenges. They faced and overcame many barriers while trying to access services for their children. As a result, FSP’s are in a position to assist parents in similar situations to navigate the various child serving service providers for their children. They provide support based on firsthand experience. ASK's FSP’s are primarily accessible to families through Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The purpose of this position is to increase family involvement and engagement in the mental health treatment process. FSP’s assist caregivers with gaining the skills necessary to address the challenges of raising a child with special needs.
What do Family Support Partners Do?
FSP’s empower families raising children with developmental, mood, behavioral, or emotional challenges by providing parents/caregivers with support, training and advocacy skills. The support provided by FSP’s will focus on increasing confidence, competence in parenting skills, helping parents gain the knowledge to effectively navigate services and systems, and ultimately empowering the caregiver(s) to develop a natural support network. The FSP assists with a listening ear, understanding, and the unique perspective of their own experiences. Parents are not alone in their struggles, and sometimes knowing this can help more than they realize.
Family Support Partners assist families with locating or obtaining needed community resources. They assist in finding or arranging various types of training, seminars, conferences, support groups or discussions to help increase knowledge in critical areas such as Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), Section 504 plans, evaluations, specific disabilities, parenting strategies, local resources, etc. FSP’s also help establish goals for families, plan and prepare for school meetings or person-centered-planning meetings, court hearings, etc., and are able to attend meetings with families for support, if needed. FSP’s are typically used to enhance the therapeutic process of the clinician or the case manager by working directly with caregivers to expand, enhance and increase skills, knowledge and abilities needed to meet the numerous challenges facing families of youth with mental health needs.
FSP’s provide a source of credible information while demonstrating effective communication & collaboration. They assist with the navigation of services while helping to build and nurture relationships with the family and others working with the family. FSP’s support parents to effectively participate in services and treatment while providing information to increase the family’s understanding of their child’s unique needs. They use their own experience and additional information to assist parents in understanding their child’s diagnosis and the supports and services available to them. FSP’s team with others providing services while providing support and information to assist the family with making informed decisions. They encourage caregivers to speak for themselves and to locate and access information on community activities and groups based on each family’s strengths and cultural interests.
Services available to all Kalamazoo County Families of Children with Mental Health & Developmental Challenges
The Family Services department offers monthly opportunities for caregivers and family members to gather in a safe environment to share their experiences and learn from each other. Support groups are offered at different times and days to accommodate the busy schedules many families juggle each day. Specific information on groups offered through ASK Family Services can be found linked HERE.
ASK collaborates with community partners to provide trainings to the Kalamazoo County community. These trainings are open to families of children or youth with special needs, professionals working with these families, and to other community members interested in the various trainings offered. In addition, ASK directly offers evidenced-based trainings to equip caregivers with parenting skills and tools multiple times a year. Specific information on trainings offered through ASK Family Services can be found linked HERE.
Social, Advocacy, and Stigma Reducing Events
Throughout the year, ASK offers family-focused events in the community. These events may be sponsored directly through ASK or through a partnership with other agencies. These events may include opportunities to collect information on available community resources, share your family’s story, advocate for issues important to your family, be more involved in our community, volunteer, and be part of helping to reduce stigma around mental health challenges. Specific information on events offered through ASK and our partners can be found on our events page linked HERE.