You are not alone.
Support for families from families who have been there.

Family support is a core principle of System of Care because when it comes down to it, our youth are part of a family unit, and as family members and caregivers sometimes you need (or want) some assistance. 

At other times, you simply need to know there's a place you can call where you can be heard, get advice, or learn about services and programs for you or your child... Better Days Ahead is the System of Care family support resource in our community.

A little background.

Better Days Ahead (BDA) is a service of the Mental Health Association, and is the primary family support provider for System of Care in Monroe County.  BDA believes family support is unique because it connects family members and caregivers, who have experienced the system, with parents and family members who are currently receiving services in System of Care. 

This connection to someone who has been where you are will help you to feel supported with true empathy and in a non-judgemental and compassionate manner.  As we say in family support, our goal is to serve families without "shaming and blaming" because no matter what a family's circumstances, we are here to support you in getting the services and supports you need which will lead to positive and successful outcomes for you and your child.

Who provides family support locally?

The Mental Health Association’s Better Days Ahead Family Support Network is the family run peer service in Monroe County.  Since the Mental Health Association is not a clinical service it is able to provide straightforward information and assistance to families in emotional distress so it’s easier for them to make informed decisions about the services offered in the Rochester region and at the Mental Health Association and to access them more readily.

Better Days Ahead is a chapter of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health ( and a member of Families Together in New York State (FTNYS) and the Western New York Coalition for Children’s Mental Health (

Family Driven and Youth Guided Services are among the core values of systems of care and BDA assists individuals and agencies in understanding and operationalizing these values in the community.  For more information on these values please visit the System of Care Values page or contact BDA at 325-3145 ext. 131 .

What services are provided by BDA and why might I be interested in them?

  • Peer run groups - BDA provides peer run groups for both parents/caregivers and their youth.  The support groups for parents are at a variety of locations both in the city of Rochester and the surrounding suburbs and are provided in both English and Spanish. 
  • Family roundtables - there are also Family Roundtables, held in both English and Spanish, for parents/caregivers who want to provide input into the mental health system and System of Care and network with other parents like themselves as well as learn about what other resources are available in the community for families and youth. Check out the Events Calendar for the next scheduled roundtable.
  • Family development - information and/or training on a variety of issues from parenting to understanding your child’s learning disability to orientation to the Child and Family Team Process
  • Individual support component - BDA works with families in need for short periods of time around specific goals.  Here are a few examples of what those might be:
    • getting the right placement for your child at school;
    • connecting with mental health services that are appropriate for your family;
    • or learning how to organize paperwork, etc. to make caring for your family easier.
  • Youth groups - BDA provides two groups for youth in the Monroe County area. 
    • P.E.A.C.E. (Peers Encouraging a Caring Environment) group for youth, which  is for youth 13-18 years of age seeking peer support.  This is a skill building group where youth with mental health challenges can share in a facilitated discussion with other youth like themselves.  The group decides what things they would like to learn and agendas are planned to facilitate that outcome. 
    • S.W.A.T.  (Spreading Wellness Around Town) Youth Council for the System of Care facilitated by Jerard Johnson, Youth Engagement Director for Better Days Ahead.  These are youth who are building leadership skills and are active in sharing their input into the system and identifying what works or does not work for youth.  For more information, contact Jerard at
  • Advocacy for families and their children (with mental health challenges both in the schools and in the community.)  BDA has Education Advocates who are familiar with special education law and the rights and responsibilities of parents and youth in that system.  Family mentors can be assigned to assist families in getting their needs met in Monroe County. 

To inquire about services call BDA at 325-3145 ext. 131.

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