(The following is submitted by our partners at the Panhandle Mental Health Center)

Professional Partner Program ~ Helping Families Stay Together
By Janae Keener
Does your child suffer from a mental health illness; such as, ADHD or depression? Is your child having behavior problems or failing classes? Do you know a child who could benefit from being involved with community activities? Do you know a family who could use some help navigating the challenging and stressful world of social services? Do you want help setting goals for a child and watch them achieve them? The Professional Partner Program (PPP) is a positive solution to these common, yet difficult, situations.  
PPP is a wraparound program that focuses on the strengths of youth and their family members. The ultimate goals of PPP are: to keep youth in their homes, advocate for and empower youth and their families, and provide a sense of community with struggling families. PPP strives to help youth and their families build up their support systems, engage in community activities, provide resources and assistance, strategize and problem solve tough issues, and build success in school, home, and the community. PPP offers mentoring and tutoring services as well.  
Who is eligible for PPP?  PPP has a few key requirements for youth to be enrolled into the program. To be eligible for PPP services, the youth must be under the age of 21 and have a mental health diagnosis or a functional impairment. The youth must also be at risk of: becoming a state ward, being placed out of their home, dropping out of school, committing a criminal offence, or have committed a criminal offense. If you are unsure if you child has a mental health diagnosis, a Professional Partner can refer you to a counselor to have an assessment completed.  
How do I refer to PPP?  Make a referral to the program. Anyone can refer a youth to the program; including, a school staff member, therapists, counselors, friends, or family members. If you are unsure if a youth will qualify, please call and a Professional Partner will assist you with this process. If the youth doesn’t qualify, they will be linked to other services.  PPP Referrals can be found at www.region1bhs.net under youth services. Local school staff members have PPP referrals as well. You can always contact any Professional Partner and they can walk you through the process.
After the referral, what does PPP do?  Once the Professional Partner receives a referral for a youth, they will contact the family as soon as possible and explain PPP and the wraparound services that are provided. If the family is interested in receiving services, an intake meeting will be scheduled. During this first meeting, the Professional Partner and the family will complete intake paperwork, identify positive people to be a part of the family’s team, and start developing positive goals for the youth. Once a youth is enrolled in PPP, the Professional Partner will meet with the family and the team for monthly team meetings. They will also be in contact with the family throughout the month by providing various services and support for the family via phone calls, home visits, office visits, and school visits. It is PPP’s goal to work closely with the team members to help the youth accomplish their goals, make additional referrals as needed, and transition to a successful discharge from the program.  Janae Keener, a PPP worker, stated, “The key to the program is getting families to accept our help.  Many parents are scared to ask a school or agency for help because they fear their child might get taken away.  I want to help parents keep their kids in their home surroundings.  Parents need to understand that this is a voluntary program, which means they decide if they want services provided to them and when they feel they have reached their goals they can be discharged from the program. Parents need to know that this program keeps them in control of all situations and we act as a partner with them.”  The idea is to build on the strengths of each individual youth, and each case is treated uniquely in every aspect, from the hours needed with mentors to what other resources are utilized by the youth and his/her family.  Janae states, “I find community resources and create a plan of survival for the family. Often this plan can be broken down into monthly goals, which are checked up on in monthly meetings. The main thing to keep in mind is that the program is a Family Centered Practice, which means the family has access and ownership of the plan. I want every child to know they have strengths and a purpose in life.  I like to build additional strengths off their existing strengths. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.  We all need it every now and then. Families don’t have to do it alone, there are services to help that are supportive to the family.”  PPP covers 11 counties in the Panhandle.
On the inverse, PPP is always in need of mentors for youth already participating in the program. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, please call or visit with a Professional Partner today. If you think that you or your child may benefit from participating in the Professional Partner Program, please call 308-633-2070 or (toll-free 24/7 crisis hotline) 1-877-492-7001.

Mr. Mack