History of UACF

It all started at a kitchen table in Emeryville, California in 1993 when three extraordinary mothers: Carolyn Cooper, Nancy May, and Karen Hart dedicated themselves to  transforming the mental health, educational, and legal systems that often failed to meet the needs of their children with emotional and behavioral challenges. 

In 1987, the California Department of Mental Health applied for federal funding through the Child and Adolescent Services System Program (CASSP) for inclusion of a state level family group in California.  As parents developed their voice through this early movement, a small group of 10 parents became strong, assertive leaders and moved forward to develop the United Advocates for Children of California (UACC). 

In 1993, Carolyn Cooper, Nancy May, and Karen Hart were among the 10 parents who formed the initial Board of Directors.  During this initial development UACC was under the umbrella of the Mental Health Association of California (MHAC).  This partnership was a successful endeavor as UACC parents gained the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate for system transformation. 

With a vision of helping families across California, they navigated through child serving systems, gaining the ability to meet the needs of children and youth with mental health care conditions.  Shortly thereafter, with help from MHAC, UACC incorporated and began to form and develop new roles for family members within the public child serving systems in California.

In 2007, UACC formally changed its name to the United Advocates for Children and Families (UACF) and  has rapidly grown to become California’s premier non-profit advocacy group for families of children with mental health care needs. Built upon a solid foundation, both nationally and statewide, UACF has set the stage for even greater achievements, forging a path to educate, advocate for, and empower the parents, caregivers, and families caring for children and youth in the mental health care system.

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