Impacting Policy

You have a voice in policy decisions!

Whether it's writing letters to legislators, signing a petition or sharing your story—there are many ways you can get involved and be a force for change.

Join a Committee, Task Force, Work Group or Advisory Board

Many state and local committees (including task forces, advisory boards and work groups) related to mental health and/or substance use require that a parent or caregiver with experience caring for a loved one with these challenges serve on the committee. Most committees strongly value the input of family members, and advocate for policies that align with the family voice.

Maryland Coalition of Families' staff serve on more than a dozen committees, both on the state and local levels. They represent the perspective of family members on topics including educational advocacy, school-based behavioral health and substance use advocacy.

You can also have an impact by serving on local committees. Consider joining:

  • Special Education Citizen’s Advisory Committee (SECAC)
    SECACs are committees established by each local school system to seek meaningful input from parents, community partners, service providers, educators, and administrators on local issues related to the provision of services to students with disabilities. According to federal law, all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education (FAPE), regardless of the nature or severity of a student’s disability. Contact your local school system to join the SECAC in your jurisdiction.
  • Boards of Directors
    Many Local Addiction Agencies and Core Service Agencies (or Local Behavioral Health Authorities), Local Management Boards, nonprofits and other community organizations require that a family member serve on their Board. Contact the agency or organization directly to learn of opportunities.

Participate in a Focus Group

Maryland Coalition of Families holds focus groups with families on a variety of topics. Focus groups are meetings of family members in which questions are asked to get the perspective of families on a particular topic. MCF staff then write a report summarizing the findings of the focus groups, and share the opinions of family members with policy-makers. Past focus groups have influenced the state to change policies or enact legislation.

Join our mailing list for notice of upcoming focus groups.

Some examples of the reports developed from past focus groups:

  • Listening and Learning from Caregivers of Youth and Young Adults with Substance Use Problems
  • Crisis Services and the Experiences of Families Caring for Children and Youth with Mental Health Needs
  • Caring for a Child with Co-occurring Disorders