What is a Family Advocate?

What Is a Family Advocate?

A Family Advocate can be called by many different titles, including Navigator, Family Associate, Parent Advocate, and Parent Support Partner. According to the Colorado revised statutes (27-69-102) a “Family Advocate” means a parent or primary care giver who:

  1. Has been trained in a system of care approach to assist families in accessing and receiving services and supports;
  2. Has raised or cared for a child or adolescent with a mental health or co-occurring disorder; and
  3. Has worked with multiple agencies and providers, such as mental health, physical health, substance abuse, juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, education, and other state and local service systems.

A “Family Systems Navigator” means an individual who:

  1. Has been trained in a system of care approach to assist families in accessing and receiving services and supports;
  2. Has the skills, experience, and knowledge to work with children and youth with mental health or co-occurring disorders; and
  3. Has worked with multiple agencies and providers, such as mental health, physical health, substance abuse, juvenile justice, developmental disabilities, education, and other state and local service systems.

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What Does a Family Advocate Do?

A Family Advocate may:

  1. Provide education to family members and to others involved in the systems serving the family and youth.
  2. Help identify the strengths and needs of families.
  3. Be a mediator between the system and the family by helping to educate professionals on the strengths and needs of the family.
  4. Help family members understand the different roles of the agencies involved in the system and how they may affect the family.
  5. Assist families in identifying and utilizing necessary services.

A Family Advocate or a Family Systems Navigator helps state and local agencies and systems adopt more strengths-based and family-driven programs, policies, and services. The focus is to better meet the needs of families and their youth with mental illness, co-occurring disorders or substance use disorders and improve outcomes for all, including families, youth, and the agencies they utilize.