Child & Family Connections (CFC) is the first and only peer-run organization in the United States focused exclusively on helping families living with parental mental illness.
Personal experience inspired the creation of Child & Family Connections.
In 2010, nine-year-old Charlotte sought to share her struggles with other kids who had a parent burdened with a mental illness. She hoped to find the emotional support and insights of her peers. The problem: Charlotte found nowhere to go.
Charlotte’s father suffered with bipolar disorder, which led him down a path to institutionalization, poverty, and even the brink of death. For a nine-year-old, that was a lot to deal with. Fortunately, with years of hard work by father and daughter, they rebuilt their relationship.
Inspired by his daughter’s request but unable to find any programs, Evan Kaplan collaborated with Edie Mannion at the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania and with the City of Philadelphia to assemble a cross-functional, cross-organizational team of behavioral health experts, academics, researchers, and parents with “lived experience.” They formed Child & Family Connections, Inc., in late 2012 to support families living with parental mental illnesses.
As a peer-run organization, CFC employs and trains parents who have experienced mental illness to teach families real-world skills and strategies to promote individual and family resiliency.
Two of those programs include:
- SafeTogether teaches parents how to create a legally binding family plan that ensures a responsible adult is caring for the children in the home and that the parent is receiving effective and appropriate psychiatric care so the family can return to everyday functioning.
- Our weekly Parent’s Support Group for parents with mental illnesses, accessible by telephone or from the web. The program launched in 2014, and was the first of its kind in the United States. A caring parent and behavioral health professional facilitates the support group discussion in a healing and supportive way, with a people-first, recovery-centric approach. The group is flexible: parents may join the call as frequently or infrequently as they’d like and they may remain anonymous or introduce themselves. No registration or commitment is required but for many, the Parent’s Support Group becomes a key part of their support system.
Child & Family Connections has accomplished so much more than we ever envisioned when we first met in that cramped conference room with the rattling fan four years ago. CFC has earned a place as a thought leader and pioneer in the field and a trusted resource for families. We are keynote speakers at international and regional conferences, we contribute to academic journals, we’re featured in the media, and we’ve won awards for our work.
Whether families join us for a Building Family Bonds Workshop or parents call or log in into the Parent’s Support Group, they are unified by their love for their families and their willingness to undertake the challenging work that is essential to recovery.
Child & Family Connections has strong roots in, and a commitment to, our communities. Our partners include Temple University, WHYY Television, Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Google, Inc., Giant Foodstores, Resources for Human Development, The Patricia Kind Family Foundation, The Barra Foundation, filmmakers OC87 Recovery Diaries, and others.
We’re entrepreneurial and grant-funded; over 90 percent of our funding is spent directly on programming. Thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, partners, and donors, our programs are open to the public … and they are free.
We’re proud to say that Charlotte’s request continues to transform lives and we are privileged to be a part of the process of helping families heal.