Parents know parenting. Janet Smith knows. Smith is executive director of FACES of Stark County, an agency of parents who have been successful in navigating the various systems for their own children and now are ready to help other parents find appropriate services for their children.

FACES (Family Advocacy + Community Education = Support) started in 1993 as a project of the Children’s Mental Health Initiative. At the time, the Mental Health Board, as it was then, received a $5 million grant to help establish better children’s mental health services in this county.

“They decided they did not want to design any program unless they had parents at the table who had experienced problems with their children,” said Smith. “They started FACES as a parent-advisory group. It wasn’t very long before they discovered parents who had been through things have a lot to offer.

“We value parents who have been through situations with their children, who can guide other parents,” she said. “The Mental Health Board, in their wisdom — and I cannot say enough about them — said we can’t just stop at mental health. The problem is there is usually something else going on at home.”

Smith said problems include parents’ facing eviction issues because of the way the child acts out, or medications not covered by insurance, causing utility bills to go unpaid.

The Mental Health Board decided to give the parent group that began to form the right to work across the system and do whatever needed to be done to help families.

“That is how FACES got started,” she said. “It officially became a nonprofit in 1995.”

ABOUT FACES OF STARK COUNTY

WHO: FACES of Stark County (Family Advocacy + Community Education = Support)

WHAT: An agency consisting of parents who have been successful navigating the various systems for their own children, who are now ready to help other parents find appropriate services for their own children.

BOARD MEMBERS: Martha Daniels, educator/Plain Local Schools, president;Theresa Byrne-Manzell, program director for GRADS in Akron, vice president; Laura Berkeley, family support services, Habitat for Humanity, secretary; Brett Fogle, accountant, treasurer; and members, Ann Harmon, retired registered nurse, Ohio Department of Health, Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps; Sherry Marzick, registered nurse, nursing administrator, Mercy Medical Center; Minerva Morrow, director, Canton City Schools, Digital Academy; Robert Roden, retired educator; and Janet H. Smith, executive director.

MAJOR SUPPORTERS: Ohio Children’s Trust Fund/Stark County, Stark County Health Department, CareSource Foundation, Aultman Health Foundation, Interim Health Care, and City of Canton/Community Development Block Grant.

DONATIONS: Donations can be made to PO BOX 9046, Canton OH 44711.

PROCEEDS: 92 cents of every dollar contributed goes directly to program services.

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