Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Getting the word out: Organizing from the bottom up.

Rosie D. and the Children's Mental Health Initiative have the potential to change the face of how care is delivered;  they are complicated and hard to understand.  Over the course of the last year, providers and advocacy groups have been engaged in the conversation with the various branches of state government;  with the forums that Health Care for All has been encouraging all over the Commonwealth, we are trying to engage more people in this process.  All of this is to say that organizing one of these events is a bit of work, but afterwards we will have the informed public that we need to make this all work.
I've been actively involved in the upcoming event in Webster-  I want to highlight the hard work of my colleagues in making this a success.  Back in April, a group of us were discussing the need to raise awareness of Children's Mental Health reform in Central Massachusetts.  In Boston, the buzz was that this was a "Boston-centric" issue, and we wanted to show that it is just as important to the families of Worcester County as it is the folks inside 128.  Also, we wanted our legislators to embrace the issue-  some had, some hadn't, but mostly, it seemed, because they hadn't been asked to do so.  
We decided to organize forum in the North, Center and South parts of the County.  The first two happened earlier this month, and have resulted in press coverage, public endorsements by legislators and a general sense that, once the budget gets through, this thing will pass.  The South County forum is tomorrow.  PAL and the Webster Youth and Family Center have done a great job recruiting families to talk about their struggles with the multiple systems of care of which you have heard me write in the past.  Judge Perez signed up immediately to speak- legislators who were available for earlier sessions are now bound up in the budget debate, but have sent written or verbal encouragement.  MSPCC, YOU Inc, the Boys and Girls Club and Health Care for All have all contributed to making the program happen.  The press is planning to come to hear our stories.
We had a Parent Advisory Group meeting at our office this evening, discussing Rosie D and the Child Mental Health Bill.  The parents present had a variety of different experiences with the system; all identified lack of coordination of care as one of the key problems and all saw how this led to "starvation in the midst of plenty."- a sometime surplus of resources that are not being used very efficiently.
And now:  we wait.  To see how it all plays out.

Talk to you tomorrow.

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