Family Leadership Training Institute

By Emily Koeppel, B.A., Graduate Research Assistant in Human Development & Family Studies, Colorado State University

Reggie Johnson

For many grandparents that are raising grandchildren, there is a desire to reach out to the community and help other grandparents that are in similarly tough situations. However, it can sometimes feel overwhelming and that being "just a grandparent" or "just one person" is not significant enough to make a difference in an issue or change a policy.

Reggie Johnson is a 56 year old, single woman raising her granddaughter. She is also one of over 300 family leaders, from locations across Colorado who have completed the Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI).

Her own personal experiences of raising her grandchild brought about her resolve to see how she could more effectively help others going through a similar experience. As a participant in FLTI she was gained step by step support in researching and designing a response to an issue she saw emerging, "Over the last few years, I have heard stories about lack of grandparent (and other kin) rights which make my personal situation seem mild." With so many stories to draw on, Reggie began to see the current laws and interpretation of these laws were leaving children at risk. Her mission became every child deserves to grow up in a safe, loving, and forever family. Sounds simple enough, but the reality is that many children do not. The goal of her FLTI community project was to find out why and design a community response. The result was PAC-Kin (Protecting and Cherishing Kin), a grassroots group of grandparent's and other kin providers working together toward permanent kinship arrangement where they can best provide for the physical and emotional safety, health and wellbeing of at–risk youth. FLTI graduates like Reggie are applying skills gained through the training to affect positive outcomes for children and families in education, health, and safety.

The Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) is a 20-week training that is offered at no cost to the participant. The first ten weeks of the training are focused on developing personal leadership and the second ten weeks on civic and democracy skills. Each participant applies what they learn in the training to his or her own community project. The training also includes a day at the capitol and an all-state graduation ceremony in May.

So if you are a grandparent looking to develop your skills in community and family leadership, FLTI is great opportunity for you to consider. Applications are now being accepted and are due in most sites by early to mid-December 2013. There is an application and interview process for FLTI participants before the program begins in January 2014.

There are currently seven locations in the state of Colorado that host the FLTI training program. To find the nearest FLTI site to your location, visit the FLTI website and select training sites. You will also find additional information about FLTI and how to apply.