Family Forum

Welcome! You are not Alone!

We are family members, or caregivers with children with special health care needs. It is our lived experience as a family member that set us apart. We promote recovery and wellness in our loved ones and ourselves through the concepts of hope, self-advocacy, education, peer support, personal responsibility and resiliency. We believe that these concepts are universal regardless of what recovery program you may chose. We are a member based organization with a board of directors and staff. Our main office is located in Ennis, Montana, our staff and board of directors are located across Montana.

What is a Family Peer Supporter?

A Family Peer Supporter is a parent or caregiver with lived experience raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need along with training who provides support to another parent or caregiver who is currently raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need. The Family Peer Supporter works directly with the parent or caregiver, not the child, providing emotional support, resources, and connection to community.

What does a Family Peer Supporter do?

  • engages in empathetic listening and promotes positive feelings towards utilizing services
  • provides flexible, community-based peer support services designed to promote wellness, empowerment, and resiliency
  • provides insight and hope
  • validates and normalizes feelings of fear and confusion through a shared lived experience
  • connects families with community resources and follows up to provide continued support
  • helps parents develop natural supports and positive approaches for addressing their family’s day to day needs
  • encourages parents to adopt and prioritize self care strategies for themselves

Types of Support

Emotional Support– provides connection from people who have “been there.”

Informational Support- includes providing connections to resources, making referrals, and giving information about the children’s health system.

Educational Support- focuses on helping you understand your child's needs, increasing your knowledge and skills, and guiding you in accessing your natural supports.

Concrete Support- includes things such as helping arrange childcare and transportation, finding support groups, and assistance in developing recovery plans.

Become a member!

Basic Membership is FREE!

Task Force

Montana currently has many organizations and individuals providing Family Peer Support. However, we often work separately and aren’t connected to each other. Montana also does not have certification or required training for Family Peer Supporters. In addition, our work is not billable by Medicaid or private health insurance. The purpose of the Family Peer Support Task Force is to identify the needs and develop the fundamental elements necessary to grow and maintain a sustainable Family Peer Support workforce in Montana. Unique to this Task Force, we are bringing together families and providers of children with all special healthcare needs, including behavioral.

Goals of the Family Peer Support Task Force

  • Define Family Peer Support scope of practice and code of ethics
  • Develop Family Peer Support core competencies and training standards
  • Determine CEU’s and clinical supervision

Steering Committee

The purpose of the Family Peer Support Steering Committee is to take the information developed in the Task Force and make final decisions recommendations made by the Task Force.

The Steering Committee meeting every 2nd Wednesday immediately following the Task Force meeting and the 4th Wednesday of every month at noon.

Action Committee

The Family Supporter Committee is working toward the development of a Family Peer Supporter workforce and certification process to support those with children in the behavioral health system in Montana.

Read more about the family committee here.

Family Forum Events

Beth Ayers
Family Peer Support Lead
Children's Clinic
Email Beth

Jana Galarus
Family Peer Supporter
Southwest MT Community Health
Email Jana

Erin Faulkner
Family Peer Supporter
Shodair Children's Hospital
Email Erin


Kayla Myers
Family Peer Supporter
Children's Clinic
Email Kayla

Family Forum Blog

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Forgiving Myself

I was ill-prepared for taking care of a child with behavioral health challenges. I didn’t understand mental illness and neurodiversity. I hadn’t heard of trauma-informed care. I had little tools in my parenting toolbox. I parented a lot of the time from a place of fear, control, embarrassment, fatigue, and ignorance. I also parented out of a deep and all-consuming love.

Posted on by Kayla Myers

Beyond Recovery

When I was first asked to write a blog geared to the topic “Beyond Recovery”, I tried to really think about how I could incorporate a memory that had just shown on Facebook that morning. This was the first public statement I had made about my son’s and my story regarding his struggles.

Posted on by Erin Faulkner


When I was 4 years old, I got my first pair of hearing aids. For the next 7 years, I hated them. Everything was just so loud. I would take them out often and several times, with my mother, have to dig them out of garbage cans because I accidentally threw them away. We moved to Helena, MT when I was 10 years old. My new audiologist realized that my hearing aids had never been set correctly for me. Finally, I could hear comfortably.

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Family Recovery

Mental illness affects the whole family. And although each member’s recovery is individual, recovery and healing as a family has been important to me and to my own recovery and wellness.

Posted on by Jana Galarus

From Diagnosis of a Disability to Emotions and Advocacy

I am a mom with a child who has a disability. Our daughter was born three months premature. She had failure to thrive, was on oxygen, and needed heart surgery. I remember receiving the diagnosis that she has Cerebral Palsy. I wondered what this would mean for her in her life.

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Family Relationships

Family relationships can be challenging, complicated, wonderful, or any other positive or negative adjective you want to put there! Navigating family relationships becomes even harder when there are health challenges. Raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need can put added strain on family relationships.

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Join MPN’S Family Support Committee

The Family Support Committee was started in 2021 by and for parents and caregivers with lived experience raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special health care need. Its mission is to develop and support Family Peer Supporters in MT to help families, who are currently raising a child with a behavioral health challenge and/or special healthcare need, build support systems, tools, and resiliency.

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Family Peer Support

As a parent raising a child with behavioral health challenges, these words are lifesaving; especially when they come from a parent who has also raised a child with behavioral health challenges. Or in recovery terms, has lived experience. We who have walked in their shoes bring to a struggling parent empathy, practical knowledge, judgement-free listening, empowerment, support, and hope. This unique role is called Family Peer Support.

Posted on by Beth Ayers

Family Culture

Over the years I have thought a lot about the culture of my family and what I want it to be. Particularly, how I want it to be different from my parents’ culture that I was raised in. And the ways I would like it to be the same. One thing in my life that I have a lot of control over is the culture in my family and our home.