Saginaw MAX System of Care Featured in SAMHSA Documentary

The documentary project stemmed from a visit to Saginaw by representatives of SAMHSA, which provides funding to the Saginaw MAX initiative through a six-year federal block grant, in June of this year for a routine on-site review of the initiative’s progress. “After interviewing youth and families, key team members, and system partners, the visitors commented on how impressed they were with the progress being made in the community,” explained Saginaw MAX Project Director Wardene Talley. “Within days of them leaving, I was working with Pat [Baker] and Elaine [Slaton] to coordinate their return trip for a documentary. It was humbling and exciting for everyone involved.”

“Families Rising” centers on four traits that drive the concept of a family-driven system of care in the Saginaw community – leaders consider it an honor and a privilege to serve children, youth and families; providers, policy makers and agency leaders value and rely on the experiential knowledge and expertise of families to make positive changes; each person works hard to suspend blame and judgment, while consciously recognizing one another as a valuable human being; and families are committed to improving their community.

“We were honored that SAMHSA recognized the hard work and dedication of these families pushing to make a positive change in Saginaw,” said Keva Clark, Lead Family Representative for Saginaw MAX System of Care. “It’s been a long road and there is much more work to be done, but the progress that has been made is something to be celebrated.”

The documentary will be utilized by SAMHSA as a training tool and resource for other communities throughout the country who are implementing their own system of care structure and can be viewed by the public at “Great work is being done here in Saginaw,” said Talley. “Every system of care community is unique, but the SAMHSA visitors considered Saginaw MAX a leading example to show the amazing impact that family voice and involvement can have in creating system change. How amazing is it that not only do we get to change the lives of families in our community, but now we will be touching communities across the country who watch this video too?”

For more information on SAMHSA, system of care initiatives, and mental health and substance abuse resources, visit