Imelda was referred to Family Involvement Center (FIC) in 2009. After receiving a referral from her case manager, FIC assigned her a Parent Partner. She was glad to have support from someone who had experienced what she was facing as a parent.
Through her Parent Partner, Imelda gained access to several services and received information about a variety of resources. She attended parenting classes, took advantage of FIC’s child watch services, learned the important difference between discipline and punishment and how to communicate effectively with her children - by getting down at their eye level. Imelda also learned about affordable housing, food, clothing, counseling and other community resources.
Today, Imelda describes a number of changes that occurred for her family as a result of the services she received at FIC. She says, "When parents are empowered with the education and trainings FIC offers on child abuse, domestic violence, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), suicide prevention and more, they can make positive changes that benefit the whole family. I learned to write letters requesting IEP services for my children's needs at school. Suicide prevention training helped me recognize the warning signs if a family member, friend, neighbor or community member may be in danger. Learning about domestic violence inspired me to break the cycle of violence I was in with my, now ex-, partner. I learned about Arizona's Vision and 12 Principles and Child and Family Teams, which are the foundations of the children's public behavioral health system in Arizona. At FIC, I learned that I was not on this journey alone. I became more knowledgeable and confident and, as a result, I hosted a community meeting in my neighborhood to educate my neighbors about my children's Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). After sharing what ASD is like for my children, my neighbors became more supportive. For example, once I explained that my son has difficulty tolerating loud noises, they began to keep their music and their voices down when he was present. This experience taught me the value of making community connections. Afterward, I began to attend parent leadership trainings and became active in the PTO at my children's schools."
FIC not only helped Imelda gain access to services for her children, they provided her with a space for Child and Family Team (CFT) meetings, the use of a computer and access to a wealth of resources offered through FIC's Parent Assistance Center (PAC). For Imelda, these included websites and phone numbers connecting her with grievance support, advocacy training and other services that could meet her specific needs. Imelda has also made connections at Magellan (the previous Regional Behavioral Health Authority – RBHA) Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care (current RBHA), NAMI and Raising Special Kids, where she has taken additional trainings on ASD and positive parenting techniques. Imelda's teenage children have participated in FIC's monthly youth program, Youth Creating Change and, as a family; they continue to participate in FIC's annual Children's Mental Health Awareness events.
Imelda says, "I decided to end an unhealthy relationship with my ex-partner. FIC does not tell parents what to do, but they empowered me with knowledge about domestic violence and the psychological effects it has on children. This helped me to build the strength I needed, in order to make this important decision for my family. Because of FIC, I am stronger today and I have started a process of empowerment in different areas of my life. Today, I am a volunteer for Chicanos Por La Causa and I founded and facilitate a support group in the community called PARENTS (Protective, Active, Role Models who Encourage, Nurture, Teach and provide Stability)."