The Family Center of Michigan Helps Parents and Caregivers Find Resources  

As a parent of a child with special care needs, Aleisha Leavitt understands how frustrating it can be to find resources to support family caregivers like herself.  

In her professional role at The Family Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs of Michigan as a parent consultant, she is part of a team providing free support for parents and caregivers. The Family Center is a parent-directed center within Children’s Special Health Care Services (CSHCS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

“Navigating these resources can be challenging. Some of the terminologies can be very confusing, and you want to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. So getting that guidance from the people who can better explain to you how to advocate for your child is most beneficial to make sure that your child receives the best care so that they can thrive,” Leavitt said. 

Helping families through the system 

The Family Center offers free emotional support, information and connections to community-based resources to families of children and youth with special health care needs. This includes all children who have or are at an increased risk for physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions. Children do not need to be enrolled in CSHCS to receive services from the Family Center.  

“A lot of times parents call looking for education or tips for advocating for their children in the education or medical setting. We help them navigate the system because we have so many organizations providing services,” Leavitt said. “We have representatives that can help them get to the appropriate person.” 

Among the most requested services is respite care, which is available through county community mental health departments, although requirements and eligibility criteria vary by program. 

The Center makes a range of referrals from the Social Security Administration regarding Supplemental Security Income to the Michigan Alliance for Families for information on how to navigate Individual Education Plans (IEPs). 

Caregiver resources

“I love to see the collaboration of a lot of different organizations for the purpose of supporting families across the state in regards to caregiver resources,” Leavitt said.  

Services Include: 

  • Information and referrals 
  • Support 
  • Bereavement 
  • Family/youth transition 
  • Parent-to-parent 
  • Family phone line 
  • Peer support 
  • CSHCS questions 
  • Quarterly newsletters 
  • Camp and conference scholarships 
  • Parent mentor trainings 
  • Bereavement parent mentor trainings 
  • Connect families to community-based resources 
  • Support to local health departments 
  • Family leadership network 
  • Trainings on CSHCS and the Family Center 
  • Important links and resources 

The Family Center Direct Line is 517-241-7630 and the CSHCS Family Phone Line is 1-800-359-3722. Emails can be sent to [email protected] 

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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