Find Help, Find Hope!

For Parents of Children and Youth – Virginia Family Network

What is the Virginia Family Network?

The Virginia Family Network (VFN) is a contractual agreement between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) and NAMI Virginia launched in 2011.  The purpose is to create a statewide network of families who support, educate, and empower other families with children and youth with mental health needs while also promoting family-driven and youth-guided policy throughout the child-serving systems.  The initiative is designed to “meet the family where they are” through activities such as providing support groups, training, resources, and mentorship from other families with children and youth with mental health needs. We are committed to ensuring that no matter where a family lives, they have access to the support and information that they need so that no family ever feels alone. VFN is Virginia’s Statewide Family Network and voice for families.  We work in partnership with our statewide affiliates, mission-aligned organizations and individual parents and youth to build this grassroots capacity. Learn more about resources and activities that parents, youth and communities can take advantage of throughout Virginia. If you are interested in getting involved please reach out to Mary Beth Walsh at  

The Virginia Family Network is led by a statewide advisory board made up of parents who have children and youth with mental health needs. This group provides guidance and input on all of our programs and initiatives for parents, as well as policies and issues relevant to families who have children and youth with mental health needs.

Below you will find a list of all of our programs for parents available through the VFN. If your locality does not currently have any VFN activities available, consider hosting one of our Done in a Day’ workshops and presentations. All are free and customizable to your audience and length of time.

Notice of Policy Change

Virginia Family Network is a grant funded, grassroots movement. Currently, we are supported primarily through a grant from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services (DBHDS) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  We are entrusted to be good financial stewards and look for ways to provide a diverse range of education and support to the most families for as long as possible.

At Virginia Family Network and the NAMI Virginia as a whole, we anticipate a possible decrease in funding in upcoming years. While we work to find alternate funding, we strive to hold to our commitment to continue our current level of programs.

For more information, please refer to our information sheet.


Virginia Family Network promotes the empowerment of parents and caregivers (biological, adoptive, foster or kinship) of youth and young adults with mental health needs to use their experiences to inform and transform the child serving system. Because we know that information and support are critical to empowerment, we are pleased to be able to offer scholarship funding thanks to funding from DBHDS and SAMHSA. Scholarship funding is to be utilized for educational and leadership development opportunities that promote and help individuals employ their lived experience with mental illness to inform and transform the service system. To learn more please see the full scholarship guidelines and application form.

Programs for Parents

NAMI Basics

NAMI Basics is a free 6 week course for parents and other caregivers of children and youth with a mental health condition. The course is taught by trained parents. It is designed to provide the fundamentals of caring for you, your family and your child with mental health needs. All instruction and course materials are free for class participants.

Children’s Challenging Behaviors

Children’s Challenging Behaviors is a 6-hour workshop for parents of children and youth with mental health needs. In this workshop, a trained and experienced parent provides information to help parents understand typical behaviors versus challenging behaviors that require intervention. Parents learn when and how to seek help, develop parenting strategies, learn the ins and outs of special education and other educational supports, and discover community resources available to families and youth. Find out about upcoming workshops near you!

NAMI Family Support Groups – For Parents

We offer NAMI Family Support Groups that are specifically for parents who have children and youth with mental health needs. They are 90-minute weekly support groups run by parents with children and youth who have mental health needs, for other parents and caregivers with children and youth with mental health needs. These groups provide a place that offers respect, understanding, encouragement, and hope.

Advanced Parent Leadership Training

The Advanced Parent Leadership Training is an intensive one or two day training focused on skills and competences relevant to being parent leaders in their communities. This training is great for parents who are parent support partners, parent advocates, NAMI program volunteers, or parents in other leadership roles and want the formal training to continue to develop and support their roles as leaders. It’s also great for parents who are ready to get involved and are looking for ways to do so.

Other Trainings for Parents

We offer a number of other trainings for parents that are provided as requested. If you are interested in one of the trainings below, please contact Mary Beth at 

  • Crisis Planning for Families – A workshop that provides tips and strategies for families in order to prepare for a mental health crisis so that they know what to do if the time comes.
  • Driving the Care for Your Family – A one day training that provides tools and information that prepares parents to be effective advocates for their families.
  • Navigating the System – A workshop that provides an overview of available children’s mental health services and resources and tips and strategies for systems navigation and advocacy.

Annual Events for Parents

Parent Leadership Retreat – Free one day retreat to offer learning and connection among parents and caregivers who serve other families in paid of volunteer roles

Family and Youth Leadership Summit –  Free one day conference type event to promote parent/caregiver and youth voice through knowledge, skills and networking.

Resources for Parents
We offer a number of resources for parents. Check out the Youth and Young Adult Resource Center for more information.

We offer a monthly e-newsletter that provides information, resources, and events relevant to youth and families and anyone that cares about children’s mental health. Click here to sign up.

We are very active on Facebook and would encourage you to follow us there to get regular updates on events, news, resources and opportunities. Click here to join.

We also host the Family and Youth Leadership Summit, which is a great opportunity to connect with other parents and learn valuable information and resources relevant to you and your family. Click here for more information.

Get Involved


Become a Member

Get in Touch