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Families Come Together in Annapolis to Advocate for Behavioral Health Services

Beth Hess - Monday, February 26, 2018

On February 22, 200 family members, providers, policy makers and legislators gathered at the Governor Calvert House for MCF's 18th Annual Family Day in Annapolis. Attendees traveled from all 23 of Maryland’s counties and Baltimore City to advocate for young people with behavioral health needs, including mental health and substance use challenges.

During the morning program, Delegate Clarence Lam, who represents District 12 residents in Baltimore and Howard counties, said, “I’d like to recognize all of you for the work you’re doing in the community. You’re the unsung heroes advocating for’s really important for my colleagues to hear from all of you.”

Delegate Lam also shared details of HB 1577, a bill he has sponsored which seeks to restore funding for Family Navigation through the Governor’s Office of Children to Local Management Boards who choose to include it in their array of services.

As part of the morning’s program, Maryland’s families recognized Dr. Al Zachik, former Director of Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Services at the Maryland Department of Health - Behavioral Health Administration. Dr. Zachik retired earlier this month after 24 years in this leadership position.

“You have dedicated yourself to this work guided by your belief that families matter, that parents and caregivers are a constant in a child’s life and must be equal partners in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of services,” said MCF Executive Director Jane Plapinger. “And it is because you held that belief that Maryland Coalition of Families exists today.”

MCF’s Founding Executive Director, Jane Walker, joined in the tribute, sharing the story of MCF’s creation as Maryland's statewide family organization, which Dr. Zachik helped make possible.

Following the program, families visited elected officials from 30 legislative districts to share their personal stories and experiences. The day concluded with advocates and families joining the Keep the Door Open Maryland Rally on Lawyers Mall to advocate for increased access to behavioral health services. The rally was organized by the Behavioral Health Coalition.

Special thanks to all the families who joined us for our 18th Annual Family Day in Annapolis!

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