How To Elevate Youth & Family Voice

​The Office of Children's Mental Health (OCMH) leverages the perspective of parents and young people by ensuring our collective impact teams include Lived Experience Partner participation and leadership. We have seen huge benefits as our collective impact teams follow the wisdom of lived experience leaders. 

Use this page to explore how organizations and coalitions can elevate youth and family voice to meaningfully share power. 


How It Works- The Process

Follow these steps and resources to intentionally bring people with lived experience to your work.​

For a presentation format of this information, please watch our Lived Experience Leadership: Where to Begin presentation, made available through recording of the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health 2020 Conference. 



1. Look internally. You must be ready to share decision-making power and be open to new ideas.


Complementary Resources

Youth-Adult Equity Ladder - Youth Forward MKE​

What's Sharing Power Got to Do with Trauma-Informed Practice? - NCTSN​​

Family Engagement in Systems - FREDLA

2. Identify a specific opportunity for an individual with lived experience to get involved. Plan for how you can honor their time and expertise, either with monetary stipends, food, or other incentives.

Complementary Resources

Lived Experience Partnership Planning Tool for Organizations and Coalitions - OCMH

A Guide to Forming Advisory Boards for Family-Serving Organizations - FITT Center

Supporting Family Participation - SAMHSA

A Standard of Compensation for Youth and Family Partners - CYSHCNet

3. Seek out a lived experience leader with the relevant skills and background to support your work. 


4. Once connected, be clear with all aspects of involvement, and work together to ensure that it is a good fit for both of you. Provide relevant information on the project, organization, key individuals, etc.

5. Relationships are foundational. Mentorship is necessary. Process is everything. Identify how you will help support the lived experience leader to be s​uccessful. 

Complementary Resources​

Person-First Language Guide - OCMH 

Core Competencies for Family Leaders - Missouri Family Leadership Network

6. Proceed even if it's messy. And at times it will be messy. But always be on the lookout for how to improve the lived experience leader's depth of engagement in your work.​​

Complementary Resources​

 Parent Engagement and Leadership Assessment Guide and Toolkit - CSSP​

Family Engagement in Systems Assessment Tool - Family Voices


Know you are not alone in breaking stigma and empowering the authentic perspective of lived experience! The Office of Children’s Mental Health is one of the few sources that provides connections to the wealth of resources needed to develop and empower these lived experience leaders, so that you can confidently and effectively implement lived experience leadership into your programs.  ​

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