Our History

In the early 1980s, family support groups began forming in Wisconsin to focus on the needs of families that included children with emotional, behavioral, or mental challenges. In these groups, parents garnered support, acceptance, and understanding for themselves and for their children.

In June 1987, a group of 40 parents representing nine Wisconsin support groups met in Wisconsin Rapids. They voted to form a statewide organization to advocate for improved children’s mental health. The following month, a steering committee of 16 parents met to form an organizational framework.  At that meeting, the first officers of the new organization were elected.  The organization was named Wisconsin Family Ties.

To date, there are 28 such state family networks throughout the United States. Our organization was one of the first five statewide organizations in the nation to receive federal demonstration project grant funding.

Wisconsin Family Ties continues to serve families from across the state of Wisconsin as the only parent-run nonprofit organization of its kind, ensuring family needs are understood and family voices are amplified. Our mission is to change lives by improving children’s mental health.