North Carolina (NC) ACT Coalition was founded over 10 years ago, where a few NC agencies committed to providing ACT – and doing it well — joined together as a solid unit to share resources, ideas, and unite to be a single voice lobbying for more resources and better policy. These few originating agencies spanned the state.
It was indeed a grassroots effort– no mental health authority was directing them to convene. Agency executive leadership, clinical directors, and team leaders chose to meet because they believed in this service, and most importantly, the people served. The growth of the NC ACT Coalition was well timed with my own move to NC – I was eventually enlisted to give some guest speaker talks, then slowly pulled in to facilitate and lead them (and thankful for it!).
Although our Coalition meeting location shifted many times over the years (there was a “Golden Corral” era – something only some of you will appreciate), our focus and commitment only grew. At one point, we created committees to take on tasks such as : administrative advocacy; outcomes monitoring; fidelity monitoring; and a training committee. We pooled resources, we pooled data, and we negotiated differences in perspective and opinion about best practice ACT.
As of 2019, the NC ACT Coalition remains and now essentially represents all agencies operating ACT in NC. Given the size and spread of teams, we bifurcated into an “Eastern” and “Western” Coalition for the sake of our bi-monthly meetings. We meet as one large Statewide Coalition annually for a conference. In addition to these meetings, members have access to a listserv, received discounts on trainings, and engage in surveys used to collect data and generate reports to meet provider needs (e.g., we conduct a salary survey every three years and share data (de-identified) back to the teams).
We do collect annual agency membership dues to help pay for the expenses related to facilitating and coordinating; but we’ve kept those rates steady over time. One of my personal struggles with a Coalition like this is how to preserve it’s grassroots origin, as well as decisions around membership inclusion vs. exclusion. Do we welcome all, or those who clearly show a demonstrated alignment with our mission statement of best practice ACT? Analysis of fidelity data a positive correlation between the length of membership and participation in meetings and ACT fidelity (of course there are two different interpretations of this relationship).
I go on and on about this to share something cool happening in California, or at least in Solano County and it’s neighboring counties – led by a friend, and champion for best practices in general — Emery Cowan. Emery arrived in NC to work with our DHHS/Division of Mental Health during the “Golden Corral” Days, and the Coalition so greatly appreciated her immediate interest in them and wanting to support the providers in delivering best practice ACT. She eventually moved back to do some good things in Broward County, Florida (where she is from), before being scooped up by smart people in California. Emery is working diligently to invite provides to get more involved in her area — become grassroots champions of their own right. She kindly agreed to share this resource guide she developed. Check it out!
We’d love to hear more about your own local grassroots efforts!
Photo by Michał Parzuchowski