The Family Support Partner is a paid position in Virginia that is designed to provide an intensive level of support for families of youth with mental health challenges. Family members in this role must have experience as a family member of a youth with complex emotional or behavioral health needs involved in multiple service systems. Because of their lived experience, Family Support Partners (FSPs) are able to deeply engage with families; earning their respect and developing a trusting relationship. The lived experience of FSP’s also makes them excellent keepers of information regarding resources and supports in the community; a vital trait for the mission of increasing a family’s natural supports.

In High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW), FSP’s are formal members of the team, and are equal workforce partners. They work closely with the Intensive Care Coordinator/HFW facilitator to support positive outcomes for the family. Within HFW their primary functions are to:

  • Partner with the HFW Facilitator to ensure that the HFW process is successful for youth and families
  • Provide direct support to family members and their natural supports to carry out action steps within the HFW plan
  • Connect families to other families that have had similar experiences

In many instances, localities that have used family support partners with HFW in Virginia have found that the youth in these families have reduced psychiatric hospitalizations, reduced emergency room visits for mental health reasons, fewer residential treatment placements, and the families become more self-sufficient through the process. For this reason with the award of the System of Care grant in 2016, Virginia decided to pilot the FSP service outside of HFW. In these localities FSPs are being used as a stand-alone service for families waiting for other services or in combination with other services such as crisis stabilization, outpatient, intensive home-based services, respite, and day treatment.

Whether they are providing support through the HFW process or with other services, the goals of the role are the same in that they work to keep families together, enhance the independence of the family, and facilitate connections in the community as well as with other families. Both Intensive Care Coordination/High Fidelity Wraparound and Family Support Partner Services are reimbursable for youth (and families) that are eligible for Children’s Services Act funding.

In July 2017, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) expanded the Medicaid benefit to allow for credentialing and reimbursement of Peer Support and Family Support Partner Services. This is in response to a legislative mandate to implement Peer Support Services to eligible children and adults who have mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders. As a part of this implementation, the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services was charged with developing a certification process for both adult and family/parent peer support specialists. In order to obtain Medicaid reimbursement for family support partner services, persons must complete training and the certification process.

To learn more about the different levels of peer support, training, and the certification process please click here

I’m motivated to speak up and get my story out there, so I can help others who don’t have a voice.

Family Leader, Virginia