Maury County Agencies Collaborate to Launch Support Network for Families of Children with Serious Emotional Disorders

$6.7 Million Grant Funds Mule Town Family Network

Columbia, Tenn.
— Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (TDMHDD), in collaboration with Centerstone, Tennessee Voices for Children and dozens of local organizations and individuals, has launched the Mule Town Family Network to provide support for families of children in Maury County who are experiencing serious emotional disturbances.

The Mule Town Family Network will provide a system of care that responds to the needs of children and young adults up to age 21 and their families. It will also provide valuable help navigating the complex behavioral healthcare system. For example, the program will provide family advocates whose own children experienced serious emotional disturbance and who can give support and guidance to other families dealing with similar issues.

Funded by a six-year, $6.7 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the program will serve over 400 Maury County families.

This program builds on the services already available through Centerstone’s Early Childhood Network, which provides community-based services to children through third grade and their families.

Freida Outlaw, principal investigator for TDMHDD, said the Mule Town Family Network’s community-based support system will greatly benefit the families and the children and young adults who participate.

“This program will allow us to provide seamless care for children and their families in an environment that feels safe and familiar. Furthermore, this program engages children, their families, and their communities in the common goal of helping our young people live full and productive lives,” said Outlaw.

The Mule Town Family Network will involve youth in every aspect of the program, said Brenda Dawson, Project Director. “A Youth Council will be organized to give young people a forum to discuss pertinent issues and educate the community about the specific needs of children with mental health diagnoses,” Dawson said.

“The system of services for families delivered by a variety of organizations is often fragmented and uncoordinated,” said Centerstone Project Manager E. Ann Ingram. “This new program allows us to bring all of these services together, so we’re all working together on the best plan for the young people and their families.”

Tennessee Voices for Children Executive Director Charlotte Bryson said family-based services are vital. “A young person’s mental illness affects everyone in the family, so you need to work with the whole family. It takes everyone in the family to help the child get better,” Bryson said. Tennessee Voices for Children, a statewide nonprofit organization, serves more than 12,000 families each year.

Thirty-nine local organizations and individuals will provide support for the Mule Town Family Network and participate on the program’s governance board. They include the YMCA, Columbia State Community College, Boys and Girls Club of Maury County, Community United Youth Center, A Woman’s Place, Youth Villages, The Family Therapy Center, Middle Tennessee Juvenile Detention Center, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services South Central Office, Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth South Central Region, Columbia Pediatric Clinic, South Central Workforce Alliance, Tennessee Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Maury Co. Juvenile Court, Maury County Public School System, Tennessee Department of Human Services South Central Region Families First Program, The Family Center, South Central Community Services Agency, Maury County Health Department, Centerstone, Drug Alcohol, and Anger Management Support Group, Buffalo Valley Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, Tennessee Department of Health South Central Regional Office, the King’s Daughters School, South Central Career Center, NAMI Tennessee, WMRB Radio Station and other media partners.

Participating individuals include James Bailey, Maury County Mayor, Christa Martin, Third Ward Council member in Columbia, Pamela Williams, therapist, and family members of children.

About Mule Town Family Network

The Mule Town Family Network is a collaboration of local child-serving agencies working in partnership to provide a coordinated system of care for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED) and their families who reside in Maury County, Tennessee. Led by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (TDMHDD), Centerstone, the largest behavioral healthcare provider in Middle Tennessee, and Tennessee Voices for Children, the Network integrates and coordinates services to allow children with SED to function more effectively at home, in school and within the community. For more information, contact the Mule Town Family Network at 931-490-1566.