A Brief History of Long Island Families Together, Inc.
Long Island Families Together, Inc. (LIFT), a parent-governed, not-for-profit organization, developed out of the concern of many family members and professionals regarding children’s mental health services on Long Island, and across New York State.
The Long Island Family Support Coalition is Formed
In 1992, the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) hired five parent Advisors, one for each region across the state, to help families with children receiving mental health services expand their participation in the system. In 1996, the Parent Advisor for Long Island brought together professional and parent advocate representatives from the four local OMH-funded Family Support Programs for a monthly networking meeting. We started with only four members, but as the programs developed and parent advocacy increased, the Coalition grew. By 1998, we had 24 members.
The Stage is Set
A few years earlier, a group of parents from across New York state were meeting to form a statewide, parent-run, non-profit organization. Families Together in New York State, Inc., was formed in 1995. The members of our local Family Support Coalition were inspired and decided that Long Island needed its own “strong voice for families”. A subcommittee was formed to investigate.
The Steering Committee
Based on the committee’s findings, the OMH Parent Advisor helped organize a steering committee of five parents, representing Nassau and Suffolk Counties, to form a parent-run, non-profit organization. With the additional support of Families Together in NYS Inc., the committee was able to develop a mission statement and by-laws for the newly named Long Island Families Together, or LIFT. The steering committee also developed an initial plan for the organization and started the incorporation process. Over this two-year period, LIFT went from being a dream to a reality.
The Expanded Board
At the end of the second year, in May 2000, LIFT was ready to expand its Board of Directors. New board members were chosen and officers were elected. LIFT became incorporated and received not-for-profit status. As an organization working to build a strong voice for families with children who have emotional, behavioral and mental health disorders, we decided to affiliate our organization with Families Together in NYS, Inc., and the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health, a nationwide, parent-run organization.
As Long Island Families Together, Inc., we remain committed to our mission to ensure that every family have access to needed information, support and services by providing a strong voice for families of children with emotional, behavioral and mental health disorders. As we grow and expand, our voice gets louder and more meaningful.