Powering Up: How to Create Change Through Legislation


SAVE THE DATE!  September 11th


SAVE THE DATE- September 11, 2017

Powering Up: How to Create Change through Legislation
A day-long, peer organized, statewide conference


Location:    Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Montpelier, VT

Time:          8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Cost:          Free with lunch and snacks provided

Organized By:

Vermont Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
                Vermont Psychiatric Survivors
                Vermont Recovery Network

Who Should Attend:

People in recovery from substance use; young adults and families experiencing social, emotional or behavioral challenges; and consumers, ex-patients, psychiatric survivors, and folks the world has labeled “mentally ill.”


Panel presentations, keynote address, workshop, and breakout skill-building groups designed to increase knowledge of the legislative process, increase our collective power, and build stronger advocacy skills.
More Info: Contact Logan Selkirk at lselkirk@vffcmh.org



Funded in part by






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Mental Health Always Matters Children’s PSA Mental Health Always Matters Family PSA I Am the World
Diversity Rocks
Vermont Federation of Families, PO Box 1577, Williston, VT 05495


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Moving Towards Healthier Options at Vermont’s State Parks


With summer upon us, we have filled this newsletter with stories of ways we are working to enhance Vermonters’ physical activity and nutrition in the warm weather. From summer meals and activity passports for kids to healthy food at our state parks, there is much to explore and take advantage of.

And for those of you working to make your worksites healthier, we have a new tool that will help, the Worksite Wellness Assessment. A comprehensive organizational assessment is a valuable planning tool for worksites that are starting, expanding, or evaluating their worksite wellness initiative. The Vermont Department of Health now has an online worksite wellness assessment that is easy to use and can help your worksite assess what supports are currently in place and identify any gaps that exist. Take the Worksite Wellness Assessment now! 

Healthy Meals and Activities All Summer
For some Vermont children, the summer months can mean food insecurity because they no longer have access to regular school meals. In 2015, around 3% of Vermont Middle School students said that they went hungry most of the time or always, because there was not enough food in their home. These students were significantly less likely to feel valued by the people in their community (31%) when compared to students who did not go hungry because of lack of food in the home (56%).

That’s where summer meal programs can help, not only by offering free healthy meals, but also by providing opportunities for nutrition education and physical activity that helps kids stay healthy all year long. Plus, no registration or applications are required, and all kids under 18 eat for FREE! Not sure if there is a summer meals location near you? Find summer meal sites in your community here and help spread the word.

Come Alive Outside Summer Passport

Finding time to be physically active can be challenging for busy families, yet physical activity is essential to good physical and mental health. According to Health Department data, 21% of adults report getting no leisure time physical activity and only 23% of adolescents in grades 9-12 meet national physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

A new project, led by Come Alive Outside in Rutland, funded by the Health Department’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed), is aiming to improve these numbers by encouraging youth and families to be active at numerous sites around town. The goal of SNAP-Ed is to improve the likelihood that Vermonters who are eligible for nutrition assistance, or SNAP benefits, will make healthy food choices within a limited budget, and choose physically active lifestyles. More…

Moving Towards Healthier Options at Vermont’s State Parks

Elmore State Park
Vermont has many beautiful state parks that provide opportunities for Vermonters of all ages to enjoy the outdoors. Several parks offer opportunities to purchase snacks and other food at concession stands. This summer, concession stands in the state parks are taking steps to provide more choice for their customers. Concession stands have been offering Vermont summer favorites, such as creemees and other treats, for many years. But the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation is also interested in supporting Vermonters that want healthy options for themselves and their kids. Every park that has a concession stand has started to offer healthier options and alternatives for park visitors. Look out for snacks like frozen fruit bars with no added sugar, turkey jerky that is lower in sodium, apples with Vermont peanut butter, flavored seltzers, and other delicious snacks. Each park is different in the foods it offers, but concessions staff can point to options which meet healthy snack guidelines.

Offering healthy snack options alongside conventional favorites helps to provide a balanced environment where people can have choice and variety in the foods they eat while enjoying everything our state parks have to offer.
Vermont Department of Health: Physical Activity and Nutrition, 108 Cherry Street, Suite 203, Burlington, VT 05401


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Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!

Vermont 2-1-1

Vermont 2-1-1 Launches Texting Platform!

Vermont 2-1-1 now offers four ways to find local resources in Vermont:

1. Dial 2-1-1 or (866) 652-4636 to speak with a highly trained Contact Specialist who will provide individualized assistance 24 hours a day/7 days a week

2. Text your zip code to 898211 for help Monday through Friday 8am to 8pm

3. Search online at http://vermont211.org

4. Email info@vermont211.org

Read the full press release here.

Vermont 2-1-1 Monthly Contact Statistics

A message from the Director, MaryEllen Mendl

June’s contact volume of 1,972 reflects the more financially manageable period that the summer months provide for many here in Vermont. The annual increase in contact volume that the fall and winter months always bring, with requests for home heating assistance and emergency shelter, always tapers off as summer settles in and monthly financial stressors are reduced. For many Vermonters the summer season means time for catching up on overdo utility bills, making much needed vehicle repairs, and setting aside whatever they can in anticipation of another long cold winter.

Each year, the onset of summer brings with it the types of requests for information and referral that reflect a return to the typical day-to-day struggles that some Vermont families continue to face. This year’s June data reveals spikes for information and referrals to food resources, legal services, money management and public health. Most alarming is a notable rise in referrals to Domestic Violence Hotlines (64% of the referrals under the Mental Health Assessment and Treatment Subcategory). The increase in referrals to housing/shelter resources from May to June can be attributed to this increase in calls for referrals to Domestic Violence Hotlines.

The subcategory Legal Services also reveals an increase in May and June with more referrals being made to lawyer referral services and tenant rights information. Rutland and Orleans Counties saw referrals for Legal Services double from the previous month.

More Vermonters contacted Vermont 2-1-1 for Food Programs this year. Once again, in partnership with Hunger Free Vermont’s initiatives to reduce hunger and food insecurity, Vermont 2-1-1 is designated as the number to call for information about the free Summer Meal Programs and other summer food resources. Working to assure that Vermont children have daily access to adequate food during the summer school recess is a top priority for Hunger Free Vermont and year after year 2-1-1 call statistics verify the need. The top referred service in the Food sub-category is Food Pantries (46% of sub-category). Even Vermonters receiving 3SquaresVT are still struggling to keep the cupboards full.

Read Vermont 2-1-1’s monthly contact volume report here.

HMG VT Update

June brings the end of school and the start of summer!

It also means that local farmers markets have started their summer season. Farmers markets are a great way for families to enjoy locally grown fruits and vegetables and build a sense of community.

According to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, there are 73 summer farmers markets in Vermont, each are of different sizes offering a variety of vendors, products and often entertainment! To ensure all families are able to take advantage of fresh, healthy foods during the summer months, many markets accept EBT cards and low-income families can access Farm to Family coupons to use at farmer’s markets from their area Community Action Agency.

Some markets participate in the Crop Cash program. Families who use their 3Squares EBT card at farmers markets that participate in Crop Cash can double their benefits. So for every $1.00 in 3Squares benefits they spend, they can get $1.00 matched in Crop Cash, up to $10/day! If you are a prenatal parent or parent with children through age 8, call Help Me Grow VT by dialing 2-1-1 ext. 6 for more information about how your family can access local farmer’s market programs. We can also provide information on other food and nutrition programs such as 3Squares, WIC, and summer meal sites.

Vermont 2-1-1 Web Statistics

In addition to the contact statistics, the following data is from the 2-1-1 website and shows how the public used the database search engine during the month of June:

Top ServicesHousehold Goods Donation Programs (179 searches); Clothing Donation Programs (146 searches); Community Meals (136 searches); Assistive Technology Equipment Loan (114 searches); Case/Care Management (70 searches)

Top Agencies: Salvation Army (Rutland); Vermont Department for Children and Families – Economic Services; Vermont Center for Independent Living; The Bus; CVOEO

Top Search by City: Burlington; Hancock; New Haven; Lincoln; Saint Albans

Total Site Visits: 4307

Unique (First-Time) Visitors: 1575

Summer Safety Tips for Family Fun in the Sun

Summer has finally arrived, and family vacation, outdoor play, and days at water’s edge mean that kids are out there climbing, jumping, swinging, swimming, and well, playing just about as hard as they can! This, of course, means there is a good amount of falling, crashing, tumbling, banging, and bruising – all part of being a kid, and we wouldn’t have it any other way!  There are things, however, that parents and caregivers can do to avoid the more serious injuries all of this wonderful outdoor activity might cause.

Vermont’s chapter of Safe Kids, led by UVM Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital, provides public awareness, education, and resource information and supports evidence-based workshops and clinics that help parents and caregivers prevent childhood injuries. Whether looking for safety tips about watching kids while they are in and around water, on the playground, or at the campsite, Safe Kids is the go-to place, dedicated solely to raising public awareness and preventing childhood injuries.  For injury-prevention and life-saving tips visit www.safekids.org, or for additional information about Vermont’s Safe Kids coalition, contact Christina Keating at (802) 847-2291 or by e-mail at Christina.Keating@uvmhealth.org.

To find Safe Kids Vermont in the 2-1-1 database, search by agency name or search by any of the following key words:

For additional resources specific to early childhood safety information contact Vermont 2-1-1 Help Me Grow Specialists by dialing 2-1-1, Ext. 6.

Emergency Housing in Vermont

Through a partnership with the State of Vermont’s Economic Services Division, Vermont 2-1-1 administers the After Hours Emergency Housing Program beginning at 4:30pm weekdays, throughout weekends and on state/federal holidays. Housing in Vermont has reached a critical need.

Vermont 2-1-1 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists responded to 109 calls regarding housing needs. I&R specialists provide needs assessment, problem-solving support, and information and referrals to a wide range of services to each caller. Review Vermont 2-1-1’s Emergency Housing Report for June here.

Vermont’s Annual Count of Homelessness Shows Mixed Results

MONTPELIER, VT – 1,225 Vermonters were found to be literally homeless on a single night in January. The 2017 Point-in-Time Count Report, released today by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, showed an overall increase in homelessness by 11% compared to the 2016 Point-in-Time Count. While there was an overall statewide increase, there were striking regional differences, including decreases in Chittenden (-12%) and Franklin (-17%) counties. Included in the total were 306 children, representing 25% of the entire homeless population counted.

“The work of local communities, with the help of local, state and federal investments, is needed now more than ever,” said MaryEllen Mendl, Co-Chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness. “The Trump budget would cut off affordable housing assistance to more than 700 Vermont families, putting them at risk of eviction and homelessness.”

The report comes from data collected for the Annual Point-in-Time Count, an unduplicated count of persons experiencing literal homelessness on the night of January 24, 2017.  The Count was organized by Vermont’s two federally-recognized Continua of Care (CoC), the Chittenden County CoC and the 11 local coalitions that make up the Balance of State CoC. These networks are comprised of homeless and human service organizations, housing agencies, government agencies, health care providers, private funders, and other partners that strive to eliminate homelessness in Vermont.

Margaret Bozik, Co-Chair of the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, stated, “We are pleased to see a continuing decrease in homelessness in Chittenden County. We are now seeing family homelessness decline as well as reductions in the number of people who have experienced homelessness for long periods of time in Chittenden County.  It’s very encouraging to see the state looking to make new investments in affordable housing, though the proposed federal cuts are troubling.”

Additional Point-in-Time Count Findings: 

  • The number of unsheltered persons counted was 134, a 14% decrease from last year.
  • Just under half of persons (47%) were homeless for the first time.
  • 267 persons (22%) reported as survivors of domestic violence, a 40-person increase from 2016.
  • Due to coordinated statewide efforts, the population of homeless veterans has steadily declined since the 2013 Count. 2017 saw a continuation of this downward trend with 94 veterans counted, a 15% decrease compared to last year.
  • 340 persons reported a severe mental illness, or 28% of total persons. 228 persons reported having a substance abuse disorder, or 19% of total persons.

Read full press release here.






Vermont 2-1-1 · PO Box 111 · Essex Junction, VT 05453 · USA


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FamilyWize – Health and Wellness Newsletter – July, 2017


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Health and Wellness Newsletter – July, 2017

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Each Year Millions Of Americans Face The Challenge Of Living With A Mental Health Condition



Mental illness affects one in five adults and one in 10 children in America, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Furthermore, mental illness is a leading cause of disability, yet nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. are even less likely to get help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.1

Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, culture, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult.
When trying to access treatment, these communities have to contend with:

  • Language barriers
  • A culturally insensitive system
  • Racism, bias and discrimination in treatment settings
  • Lower quality care
  • Lower chance of health care coverage
  • Stigma from several angles (for being a minority and for having mental illness) 2

As a result, minorities are less likely to receive treatment for their mental illness, have less access to mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.

Help raise awareness in your organization or community by encouraging family, friends, clients and loved ones to learn more about improving mental health during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.




OMH (Office of Minority Health) will participate in upcoming Twitter chats this month. You can join by following @MinorityHealth.

HRSA’s Behavioral Health
Thurs, July 20, 3-4pm ET
Host: @NHSCorps

Minority Mental Health Disparities
Tues, July 25, 1-2pm ET
Host: @SaludToday


  1. (OMH) U.S. Department of Human Health and Services, Office of Minority Health
  2. (NAMI) National Alliance on Mental Illness

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While at your doctor’s office, use the Drug Price Look-up Tool in the FamilyWize mobile app to see which pharmacy will have the lowest price for your prescription. Then ask your doctor to send your prescription to that pharmacy.

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VFF Newsletter – July 2017


July 2017


…a message from the VFFCMH Board of Directors
Having served VFFCMH for over 13 years, Executive Director Kathy Holsopple has announced that she and her family will be leaving Vermont to begin their next great adventure, in Virginia. Ever committed to the families and the functioning of the VFFCMH, Kathy will continue to serve VFFCMH remotely over the next few months. Cindy Marshall Tabor, Assistant Director, will transition into the role of Interim Executive Director.

We anticipate a smooth transition as VFFCMH has had a strong, stable, cross-trained leadership team in Kathy & Cindy for many years. This forward-thinking management plan affords the VFFCMH Board, Staff and Partners an opportunity to thoughtfully and purposefully continue evaluation of efforts (thank you Susan Yuan, PhD) to accomplish our mission, realize a vision, and prioritize next steps as we approach our 30th anniversary. There is depth in the skill set of VFFCMH staff that positions VFFCMH well. They are eager, as are several new members of the Board, to build on a foundation that has been well constructed.

Kathy’s last day at VFFCMH is August 3rd. Sadly, this does not give us an opportunity to bid her a proper, public and well-deserved “Bon Fortuna” celebration and send off. Please reach out and wish her well. Our loss will greatly benefit those she will serve in the years to come. We are excited for her and her family. We are extremely grateful for the passion and compassion she has brought and the legacy she leaves. Godspeed Kathy, Dennis and Josh! You will be missed…





I recently read a true story of the journey of a new naturalized US citizen. I was so inspired to read of her and her family’s loyalty and commitment to the “American dream” that led to intense commitment to our country, constitution and diversity. Her commitment also came from a place of her faith in God, as has many current and former Americans. As I pondered her experience, I thought of where we are in history as a nation. I also wondered, are we, who are born citizens of this great country, even aware of what that citizenship affords us or requires of us? I looked up the oath of citizenship to see what New Americans are committing to when they become citizens. Dare we, who are born here as citizens, commit to any less?


Oath of Citizenship


I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”



 Happy Birthday USA

Show you care as we celebrate our nation’s birthday and beyond. Be an advocate for your family, the families you love and serve, and those who cannot speak up for themselves, our children. My favorite definition of advocate is “to make someone care.” Let’s continue to advocate, make people care about, our children. I know it has been said repeatedly that the children are the future, but it honestly cannot be said enough! Helping our children and families to be successful now, ensures a brighter future for Vermont!



Parent Representatives needed in Bennington, Brattleboro, Hartford, Newport, St Albans and Middlebury 
Vermont’s ACT 264 legislation created a system that supports families at a community level by offering Coordination of Services, CSP, to those families in complex situations needing services from more than one agency or service system.
Act 264 legislation believes that Parents are valuable contributing members of their child’s Individual Treatment Team and know their child’s needs, strengths, and challenges. The Parent Representative, Parent Rep, role brings a parent voice and the parent voice into the process.
Parent Reps can assist families prior to a CSP or LIT meeting, at a CSP or LIT meeting and after these meetings. 
The Parent Rep is a volunteer who is supported by a stipend and mileage.  Parent Reps are chosen by the LIT members. The Vermont Federation of Families assists to find, recruit and train parents for this role. The time commitment for a Parent Rep is usually one LIT meeting of 1-2 hours per month and several hours per month or week to support families around their coordinated services meetings and plan.      
To consider becoming and/or apply to be your local Parent Rep please contact ctabor@vffcmh.org


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Mental Health Always Matters Children’s PSA Mental Health Always Matters Family PSA I Am the World
Diversity Rocks
Vermont Federation of Families, PO Box 1577, Williston, VT 05495


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