"Families help to ensure accountability and transparency within our health care system. They have had to endure the challenges of accessing high quality, coordinated care and know better than anyone else which changes can lead to improvements."
Allison Gray has joined the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health to spearhead its efforts to empower families to be advocates and to oversee investments that support family engagement.
Allison has been a leader in the field for many years, serving as project manager for Family Voices of California Project Leadership, a parent advocacy training program funded by the foundation. She serves as Family Leader of California for the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) and is a member of the AMCHP Family Youth Leadership Committee. She has served as the Family Advocate for California on the Western States Regional Genetics Network. Allison holds a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics.
As a mother of a child with special health care needs she understands first-hand the challenges of dealing with a health care system that doesn’t always address family concerns efficiently or effectively. She sat down with us to share her thoughts on the importance of family engagement and the exciting work ahead.
Why are families so important to improving the system of care for children with special health care needs?
Families help to ensure accountability and transparency within our health care system. They have had to endure the challenges of accessing high quality, coordinated care and know better than anyone else which changes can lead to improvements. Their lived experiences deserve a voice in policymaking decisions from the local to federal level. We have seen increased efforts around family engagement throughout the health care system, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Where do you hope to make an impact?
I’m proud to join an organization that prioritizes family engagement and invests in projects that support family centered care and parent-professional partnerships. I think we have to find new ways to demonstrate the value of family engagement, whether that’s exploring research opportunities or replicating existing models that have proven to be effective. I hope to connect more with allies in this work and explore new and innovative solutions. And of course, we must continue to champion the family voice and ensure opportunities for parent participation
What keeps you motivated?
After years of frustration navigating the complex systems for my own child’s care and learning about the experiences of other families and caregivers, I want to see changes that will lead to a health care system that works for everyone. I have seen families make a difference when equipped with the appropriate training, support, and resources and I look forward to expanding our family engagement projects at the foundation.