For Parents

Parents of children with educational, emotional, and behavioral problems often tell us about their interest in helping other children and families. These parents want to know how they can help parents like themselves. Usually, they say,

  • I wish I could do something for other parents who are going through the same things our family has experienced.

  • I had to learn a lot about how to help my child the hard way. I want to use what I’ve learned to make it easier for other parents to help their kids.

  • I’d like to share my story to let other parents know they are not alone.

  • I want to be a part of improving the systems that provide services to Kansas children and families.

How do you know if you're ready to help other children and families?

You may be ready now. For us to refer families to you, we like you to have experienced some success in securing services for your own child (education, mental health, foster care reintegration, etc.). We don’t expect you to have everything all “wrapped up,” but you should feel confident about the process for obtaining services that really meet a child’s needs—who do you talk to, what do you say, where do you go? These are the things other families want to know.

Additionally, helping others by offering suggestions and support is an added responsibility and may require you to expand what you currently know.

How do you get started helping?

Talk to us! We have many ways of supporting you to help other families and children, including training and connections to other parents. Please explore the rest of this section to learn more about helping others and about how we can support your efforts.

Ten Steps for Helping Other Children and Families

1 Get more involved with your own child.

One of the best ways to help other Kansas children and families is to be visible as a parent who is actively involved in your child’s education and other services. Your involvement shows other parents what they can do to help their child. It also helps professionals learn how to build partnerships with parents and why it is important to do so.

2 Identify your areas of expertise and interest for helping others.

Which service systems have you had experiences with (mental health, education, foster care, etc.)? Would you like to learn more about particular topics related to children and families? What skills and/or knowledge do you possess that could be of help to other families seeking help for their children?

3 Connect with experienced parents.

Ask us to connect you with parents in your area who are experienced in helping others. These parents can give you advice and support you in your efforts to become an advocate for Kansas children and families.

4 Get information and training in your areas of interest.

Familiarize yourself with the regulations of service systems. Learn about the current issues related to children and families. Attend trainings to develop your abilities to support other parents.

5 Volunteer to assist other families in your area.

Offer to assist families in your area whom we refer to you for support.

6 Develop a relationship with your state and national legislators.

Visit them, call them, write them. Often. Let them know what school and mental health services mean to your family and to other families in Kansas. Respond when we ask for parents to provide testimony to the state legislature.

7 Join decision-making bodies in your community.

Make your voice heard on issues that impact children and families in your community. Attend your school’s Site Council or School Planning and Management Team meetings. Become a member of your community mental health center’s Parent Advisory Board.

8 Participate on statewide decision-making teams.

Represent the interests and needs of children and families from your area in statewide decisions. Ask us to help you secure positions on decision-making teams related to your areas of interest and expertise.

9 Coordinate with other parent leaders in Kansas.

Share information with other parent leaders in Kansas involved in policy-making activities. Talk to us about new opportunities for involvement. Work with us to stay in touch with the needs and views of the parents and children you are representing.

10 Get involved in national system change efforts.

Join national organizations, such as the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, NAMI, and the Mental Health Association. Work with us to attend national conferences as a representative of children and families in Kansas.