Our Mission

Family Voices of Alabama (FV of AL) aims to achieve family-centered care for all children and youth with special health care needs and/or disabilities.

Through our national network, we provide families tools to make informed decisions, advocate for improved public and private policies, build partnerships among professionals and families, and serve as a trusted resource on health care. 

Our Vision

Every child and youth with special needs receives family-centered care.

Our Credo

  • We believe that experienced families are a key source of knowledge and support to help new parents in becoming effective advocates for their children.
  • We believe that professionals are important allies for families.
  • We believe that shared wisdom, counsel, respect and support creates enhanced positive outcomes for children.
  • We value diversity and celebrate our commitment to serving families in many forms.
  • We believe in supporting the role of the family in establishing public policy, and promoting public awareness related to families and disabilities.
  • We believe that parents who model effective self-advocacy encourage a child’s pursuit of his or her own dreams.

Our History

Family Voices of Alabama (FV of AL) had its beginnings in 1992 after a small group of parents of Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) organized at the national level in a response to the new emphasis on “health care reform”. A decision was made to identify one or two individuals in each state to serve as a point of contact. These people would commit to share information with families throughout the state who had children with special needs and to also share the family stories from each state with national policymakers as the reform effort moved forward.

Betsy Prince and Susan Colburn were the initial coordinators in Alabama. Soon thereafter, Jerry Oveson was added as a third Alabama co-coordinator which helped to reach more families in the southern part of Alabama. The national Family Voices organization continued to grow in its capacity, and in 2001, awarded FV of AL a mini-grant which led to our incorporation on January 16, 2002. The granting of our non-profit 501(c)3 status by the Internal Revenue Service followed on September 4, 2002.

An additional grant in 2005 allowed us to offer emergency hurricane assistance to families in our state impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Family Voices National continued to support our growth from 2001-2009 with a series of annual grants for data collection related to the needs of families in the state who had children with special needs.

Meanwhile, we strengthened our partnerships in Alabama by collaborating with Children’s Rehabilitation Service on several projects including:

  • providing support to families who were participating on the “2010 Work Groups” from 2003-2009.
  • providing participant supports and assisting in data collection efforts for both the 2004-2005 and 2009-2010 MCH Needs Assessment projects.
  • co-hosting the “Highway 2010” conference in 2005 and providing participant supports and arrangements.

Family Voices of AL was also awarded two grants from the AL Council for Developmental Disabilities to develop a “Health Information Network” from 2001-2006. In addition, we partnered with other agencies on Disability Advocacy Day efforts at the Alabama Statehouse for many years.

Susan Colburn and Jerry Oveson also served as co-Regional Coordinators for Family Voices from 2002-2009 in the 8-state southeast region, helping to develop network member roles and responsibilities, data collection plans, and helping to coordinate Regional Family Leader meetings in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

In 2009, Family Voices of Alabama was awarded a grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to increase our services to the families in Alabama by establishing a Family-to-Family Health Information Center (F2F HIC). F2F HICs were established in all States and the District of Columbia by the Family Opportunity Act / Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 extended the F2F HIC Program through fiscal year 2012. It has since been extended through the current year.