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Bringing Lived Experience to Family Support

The National Federation of Families supports families across the lifespan. Families whose children – of any age – experience mental health and/or substance use challenges during their lifetime. We believe our children are our children for life and parents and caregivers are the experts on what their families need. Through our network of affiliates and partners we connect families to family peer support. Support that is rooted in the lived experience of others who have navigated a similar path and are trained to walk beside families in their journey. We champion social justice for all families through acceptance, advocacy, and action – to lift all members of society and strengthen families, communities, and our nation as a whole. We are the National Federation. We are the voice of families. Welcome home.




Advocate at the national level for the rights of families whose children – of any age –experience mental health and/or

substance use challenges.



Provide leadership and technical assistance to a nationwide network of family-run organizations.



Collaborate with family-run and other family-serving organizations to transform health care in America.



Represent family voice and interests in the formation of national legislation, policy, services, and supports.



Develop and implement policies, legislation, funding mechanisms, and service systems that utilize the strengths of families.



Provide resources to ensure the wellness of families impacted by mental health and/or substance use challenges.



For technical assistance and training needs, please click the link below or email



Provide the only national certification for a family/parent peer workforce, known as Certified Family Peer Specialists™, to provide support to other families.

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Our Annual Conference brings families, advocates, youth, and the family peer workforce together to leverage lived experience in support of families.

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Family Peer Support News

However you feel this holiday season, know that you are not alone. The holidays can be a time to come together and celebrate for many. For others, this time of year can be less enjoyable. Individuals living with mental health and/or substance use challenges and their families may experience increased stress during the holidays. Our "Week of Well-Being for the Holiday Season Toolkit" below offers tools and strategies to prioritize your and your family’s well-being. We invite you to explore and share it.

All Hands In

Our Commitment to Social Change

At the National Federation of Families, we believe that we must rediscover our capacity for lifting up all members of our society, no matter their lived experiences, challenges, or personal traumas. By focusing on peoples’ potential – rather than their differences – we can begin to build stronger and more inclusive neighborhoods. We believe that true equity is the result of vibrant communities and responsive systems that promote self-reliance and interdependence and that celebrate diversity. Learn more here.

Adapted from Adler University (2023)

The National Federation of Families and
National Family Support Technical Assistance Center Events

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Recent Events

Advancing Social Justice, Equity, and Inclusion for Families and Their Children Conference (November 2023)

The 2023 conference, held in Chicago, IL, offered more than 90 great workshops featuring speakers representing 84 organizations from across the nation and Canada. Attendees included 629 mental health and substance use prevention advocates and professionals working to support, educate, and empower families! Learn more here.

Cutting-Edge Practice Skills for the Family Peer Workforce (November 2023)

For a family member or caregiver, their child is a child regardless of age. When a child becomes an adult, the family/caregiver relationships, services, systems, and legal worlds to support them change. Families and caregivers who are supporting their adult children are faced with navigating the adult systems with their adult child. For Family Peer Support to be effective and meaningful across the lifespan, it must be broad and adaptable for all age groups. The Family Peer Specialist role supports families and caregivers as they navigate systems and support their children throughout their lives. This training provided Family Peer Specialists (FPS) and the Family Peer Workforce with skills and tools to support families navigating child- and family-serving systems in their communities with their children of any age.

Family Engagement in School Mental Health (September 2023)

Families and schools don’t always have the same ideas of what family engagement looks like. In this webinar we will detail ways to bring families and schools together on the concept of “family engagement”. Family engagement is a collaborative and strengths-based process through which the workforce, families, and children build positive and goal-orientated relationships. It is a shared responsibility of families and school staff at all levels that require mutual respect for the roles and the strengths each has to offer. With successful family partnerships, schools can move from family involvement to family engagement. Here are links to the recording and presentation slides.

SAMHSA & NFF Webinar: Including and Elevating Fathers in Family Mental Health Support (June 2023)

Dr. James C. Rodriguez and his team at the Fathers and Families Coalition of America have used their extensive lived experience and expertise as clinicians and family members to create a variety of professional development opportunities and an international conference to increase the knowledge and skills around family mental health and substance use support not only for fathers and families, but also for those who support them. Join us to hear Dr. Rodriguez’s story of using his experience as a father and clinician to address the needs he saw in state and federal systems, as well as individual and family mental health and substance use support. Listen to the webinar recording here.


Marijuana: What Parents, Schools & the Healthcare Workforce Need to Know (May 2023)

Whether a young person has not yet tried marijuana, has begun to use it, or uses it regularly, the guidance and information provided in this webinar can help. The teen and early adult years are when children are most vulnerable to starting marijuana use and to its harmful effects. In the context of more and more states legalizing the drug for adult nonmedical use, marijuana use is becoming more normalized, and its risks are becoming more commonly overlooked. This is despite the rising potency of the drug, new modes of using it, and the mounting research evidence of its risks to young people's health and well-being. Here are links to the presentation recording, slides, and Q & A.

SAMHSA & NFF Webinar: Supporting Family Members with Co-Occurring Diagnoses (May 2023)

Learn skills that help clinicians effectively engage families to support individuals with co-occurring diagnoses, including serious mental illness, and/or serious emotional disturbance. Hear how families serve as natural supports in the recovery journey and learn about the tools and strategies Family Peer Specialists use to support families of individuals with co-occurring diagnoses​. Watch the recording here.

SAMHSA-Sponsored Webinar: Family Engagement Strategies for Clinicians (April 2023)

Learn about the importance of natural support in recovery orientated care and planning with Dr. Lynda Gargan, Executive Director of the National Federation of Families, and Janis Tondora, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine. Watch the recording here.

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