CONCORD, N.H. – Earlier this week, New Hampshire-mother Bobbie Erskine was presented with the second annual Jennifer Wierwille Norton Memorial Award by the New Hampshire Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative (NHCBHC) for her use of her own story to make positive change for families struggling within the children’s behavioral health system.
The award recognizes an advocate for children’s policy who demonstrates a dedication to making progress in children’s policy, inspires systems change, and exhibits courage, conviction, and hope.
Erskine, who has a personal story about children’s behavioral health and has been able to find the supports she and her daughter needed to get her family on track, used her voice to advocate for the expansion of the FAST Forward program, which increases the array of services available to children with severe emotional disturbances and their families. Starting in July 2018, FAST Forward will be available to all Medicaid-eligible families.
“During the 2017 legislative session, Bobbie’s voice and advocacy skills were instrumental in expanding access to the FAST Forward program, which will go on to make a significant difference in the lives of Granite State families” said Traci Fowler, chair of the Children’s Behavioral Health Collaborative “Bobbie’s passion and willingness to share her family’s personal journey with mental illness and the FAST Forward program convinced policymakers to step up and support a much-needed coordinated children’s behavioral health support system.”
“It’s really tough for parents who have children with special needs or who are struggling themselves with mental health issues. Families like mine don’t very often step forward and ask for help,” said Erskine. “We don’t usually speak up because we don’t feel like we have a voice. But I’m using mine to make things better for my own family and for all families in New Hampshire.”
The NH Children's Behavioral Health Collaborative (NHCBHC) is a network of over 65 partners and members of organizations and individuals who are dedicated to improving the social, emotional, and behavioral health and well-being of every child and young person in New Hampshire. For more information visit nh4youth.org.