The Milwaukee Coalition for Children’s Mental Health (CCMH) formed in late 2015 as a coordinated response to a call for proposals for Phase I of the Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP) Strategic Component. A community-wide call was made for partners committed to advancing the overall behavioral health of Milwaukee's residents. This group was facilitated by IMPACT Planning Council (now IMPACT Planning & Evaluation) and the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership with support from Mental Health America (MHA) of Wisconsin and Disability Rights Wisconsin in their capacity as convener of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force. A group of 12 people from 16 organizations decided together to focus on prevention efforts with youth in partnership with area schools. This group, the Milwaukee School, Home, and Community Coalition for Children’s Mental Health (MSHCC), was awarded a one-year planning grant in July 2016 to develop a full proposal.
To provide direction and oversight to the Phase I planning period, the group hired a Project Director, Leah Jepson. The coalition identified the unique needs of the Milwaukee community and developed a feasible scope for the project, which emphasized prevention and early intervention strategies and grassroots community engagement efforts. This narrowed the focus further to children in the City of Milwaukee ages 0-8, which led the Coalition to changes its name to its current form. The Coalition expanded its membership base to 40 people representing 30 organizations over the course of the year. This cross-sector representation of partners included parents and caregivers of children with mental health or developmental concerns, organizational decision-makers, and staff members who work directly with children and families. More than a dozen CCMH partners attended the Pitch Presentation in April, 2017 to show their support for the project, and funding was granted for Phase II (Implementation).
HWPP funding for project implementation runs from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2022. MHA Wisconsin serves as the backbone agency for the Coalition, with IMPACT Planning & Evaluation serving as the evaluators on the project. CCMH's work is guided by the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework. Today the Coalition is focused on enacting change across sectors, with a focus on connecting families to resources and to one another; building parent leadership; expanding workforce development; and promoting universal developmental screening. Of utmost importance to the Coalition is to be guided in decision-making by the voice of parents of children with lived experience.