MIKID a key resource for troubled kids, families
KINGMAN - Vicki Brewster was at her wit's end when Mohave Mental Health referred her in March to MIKIDS, or Mentally Ill Kids in Distress.
Her three adopted children - a 16-year-old girl, 14-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl - had been diagnosed years earlier with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and were becoming more difficult to handle as their teenage hormones raged.
Not only did they exhibit little impulse control, poor social skills and a lack of cause-and-effect thinking, the oldest girl had recently become physically aggressive. Already, she had been sent to temporary out-of-home placement twice because of her behavior, and MIKID had been called in to prevent another episode
"MIKID has given me someone to talk to and told me it wasn't my fault and I'm not alone," said Brewster. "I couldn't have made it the last few months without them. I'm a strong person and a good parent, but I'm just worn out. They came in with a fresh perspective and showed me the situation is not as ugly as I thought it was. They've encouraged me and given me back my self-esteem."
The situation is not unusual for MIKID, a nonprofit organization formed in 1984 in Phoenix by a parent seeking help for her mentally ill son. The Kingman branch's next support group meeting will be 9-11 a.m. today at Abundant Life Worship Center, 1212 N. Stockton Hill Road in Kingman.
The organization has grown to cover the entire state, with full-service offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Eagar and home-based offices in other locations, including Kingman. The local office, in existence for six years and geared toward children from birth through 18 years, includes nine family support partners and 16 respite providers.
"There's definitely a need here for what we provide," said Nancy Osborn, northern Arizona family support coordinator for MIKID. "Clinical services are based around the child, from therapy to skill training. Our services are given because of the child but are geared to the family and helping caregivers cope.
"Everything MIKID does is family-driven. Our goal is to empower and educate the caregivers of these children, whether it's biological parents, foster or adopted parents or grandparents."
Osborn said MIKID believes most families are multi-stressed and not dysfunctional; the focus should be on families' strengths and not their flaws; parents know their children best; and planning services should be a joint effort of family and professionals.
She said MIKID offers information, personal assistance, support groups, education meetings, resource referrals and direct support services.
"I absolutely love my job," said Osborn. "It's not a job where I have to fix anything. It's a job where I get to inform people and empower them.
"Even on my worst day, when I go home, I don't feel like I've let any of our families down. I was able to share the day with them and helped them so they didn't have to go through something difficult on their own."
Referrals come from Mohave Mental Health and Southwest Behavioral Health, said Osborn, and the organization now serves about 65 families in the Kingman area who are dealing with a variety of mental health issues.
It provides to its members a clothes closet in Golden Valley, an annual Picnic in the Park during Children's Mental Health Awareness Week in May and food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Money for the food boxes is raised by members of the Golden Valley Fire Department.
Osborn said the key to MIKID's success is its family support partners, the parents who have raised children with mental health needs and understand how to navigate the behavioral health system for the benefit of the children.
Osborn said a family support partner works one-on-one with each family in need of services, helping them with budgeting, applying for housing, domestic violence issues and obtaining specialized services for children in the family.
"There are a lot of local families who have benefited from having someone to talk to who listened with empathy and understanding," said Osborn. "That's what sets us apart. We don't judge anyone. In this area, one of the struggles of our caregivers is their extended family lives in a different state. So when they would normally call on a mom or sister for help, those people live miles away.
"We reduce the isolation and look for ways to build support for them through community involvement."
For more information about MIKID, contact Osborn at NancyoWmikid.org or call (928) 279-3643.