Meet the Family Peer Support Specialists
Meet our amazing team of Family Peer Support Specialists who help parents and/or primary caregivers with children experiencing mental health and/or substance abuse challenges which are resulting in trouble at school, with the law and/or that put the child at risk of out of home placement.
Family Peer Support Specialist Supervisor Kelly Ford has over a decade of experience in the mental health field. She holds a BS in Psychology and an MBA w/Certificates in HR from the University of Phoenix.
In addition, Kelly has been a volunteer Grief Support Facilitator at The Sharing Place for four years helping youth and families to acknowledge feelings related to grief and connect with others experiencing the same.
Kelly began her career with Salt Lake County Youth Services in March of 2021 and finds it incredibly rewarding to work in the challenging field of mental health and substance abuse. SLCo Youth Services provides the opportunity to see firsthand the positive impact we can make to families and the way we, as a community, view and treat mental health.
“Helene, being a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS) for the 3-past years, believes that every family is unique and expert in their own experiences- Her focus is on her client’s identified strengths and needs for services. So, she finds ways in which these strengths can promote the changes her clients would want to see in their lives; she is “An I Hear You” for refugee and immigrant’s parents with children experiencing mental health /substance abuse challenges leading them to truancy/trouble with the law/out of home.”
She is originally from the Congo and traveled around the world with her lovely husband on diplomatic assignments, where she had the opportunity to help many children and adults suffering with war trauma. `In 2001, she moved to the USA with her family; and 14 years later enrolled at the University of Utah and completed a Masters of Social Work (2015) after mental health struck her own child.
As a CPSS, and resilient woman, her focus is on truancy, and family reunification among these populations that she handles with care and passion; but instilling resiliency. She acts as a family advocate/advisor and ambassador with the local schools.
On her spare time, Helene likes travelling with her husband, reading, cooking/spending time with her grandkids/video calling those abroad.
"This work is about helping families feel validated, empowered and heard."
Laura has been a Certified Family Peer Support Specialist for the past 4 years, but she has been a listening ear and “lets see what we can do together” person for as long as she can remember.
Her combined lived experience with family members with mental health issues, physical limitations, and developmental delays and her years in Granite School District as a Behavior Health Aid culminated in a perfect transition to Peer Support work. As an CFPS Specialist, she helps families identify their strengths and needs and supports them as they navigate systems and circumstances that seem overwhelming.
Within her CFPSS work, she has been assigned to the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court team and the Compulsory Education court at the Salt Lake District Court, where she has represented Family Voice and Choice in the courtroom staffings and proceedings and provided valuable resources for youth and families in and out of the courtroom.
Lauren Greco has worked at Youth Services for almost five years. Lauren received her Psychology degree in 2014, from Columbia College. Afterwards, Lauren became a Family Peer Support Facilitator so that she could be of service and support for families that struggle with Mental Health needs. She brings her lived experience to this role by encouraging families to learn to thrive and find solutions to their struggles through resilience, empowerment, and compassion.
Lauren values her family, meditation, reading, cooking, travel and the outdoors.
“As an FPSS I get to show families that they have a voice and what they want and need matters”
Mandy has been with the Family Peer Support Specialist program for 4 years. She loves giving families hope and that’s what ultimately lead her to the FPSS program. Mandy has overcome many barriers in her personal life related to mental health and substance abuse. She is very passionate about advocating for autism awareness and enjoys sharing her experience with her own son and his journey with autism. Mandy has a plethora of resources and works daily to stay involved with the community and building relationships. She is currently attending school for her Bachelor’s in Social Work and is excited to expand her knowledge. In her free time Mandy enjoys arts and crafts, reading, gardening, and volunteering.
Maxie Mc Kay began working at youth services in 2019 as a Certified Peer Support Specialist (CPSS). She has an AS degree and previously worked in medical administration. Maxie was drawn to the peer support role after many successful attempts at avoiding her own family crisis and has since become an expert at knowing exactly what NOT to do. Working with a peer support specialist herself and successfully completing the program, Maxie learned the skills she needed to understand how to reframe the way she looks at crisis, restore order to her life and family and become an advocate for both herself and family.
Maxie wants to empower caregivers and youth by recognizing their strengths and encouraging them to take crisis and turn it into an opportunity for growth and prosperity. She thrives in supporting families in developing a plan that will promote wellness, even when chaos seems to prevail.
Maxie’s primary location is at the Juvenile Receiving Center. Here, she can support youth whom police have taken into custody for delinquency or ungovernable offenses but that does not qualify them for detention.
Maxie Mc Kay is a strong advocate for families despite whichever crisis is emerging. She is committed to helping stomp out fires and then finding the silver lining in the smoke If all else fails
Heather Worthen began working with Youth Services as a Youth Worker at The Christmas Box House in 2019. She took a break to help with the pandemic response, as a contact tracer for the Health Department, before returning to Youth Services as a Family Peer Support Specialist in August 2021.
In addition to holding a BS in Sociology, Heather brings with her a varied background of lived experiences. These include experiences with mental illness, pornography addiction, chronic illness, grief, sexual abuse, and PTSD. Heather believes strongly in the values of courage and compassion, and feels that being trauma-informed would benefit all of society as a whole. She has a gift for ‘seeing’ people and a passion for self-care and post-traumatic growth.
Heather likes to utilize creative expression and connecting with nature in her own self-care and therapeutic endeavors. She plays piano, does pyrography and other art. Heather loves hiking where she can utilize her photography skills in nature and loves to travel. She also enjoys a good blasting of music and playing VR for some escape- Beat Saber to ‘get it out’ and Tripp for meditation.