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FCAN's mission is to create a coordinated, family-focused continuum of care that addresses the unique needs of this population. For over 17 years, FCAN has been instrumental in developing policies and programs that strengthen and support HIV-affected families.
FCAN was organized in 1985 by a group of health care and social service providers who work with children and families affected by HIV infection and AIDS. Since its inception, FCAN has grown into an organization of over 300 health care providers, social service providers, legal service providers, and consumers. Originally organized as a network of Chicago area providers and consumers, a Downstate Caucus now exists as a forum for people interested in issues impacting HIV-affected families Downstate. For 16 years, FCAN has been instrumental in developing policies and programs that strengthen and support HIV-affected families. FCAN is also well known for its advocacy efforts on behalf of HIV affected children, youth, and families. FCAN's Advocacy Task Force began in 1992 and promptly set about advocating for additional options for families interested in making future care plans for their children. Owing in large part to FCAN's ongoing efforts, provisions for standby guardianship and short-term guardianship became law in January 1994. In 1999, FCAN's advocacy efforts led to passage of the nation's first standby adoption legislation. FCAN has continually advocated against legislation that would mandate that pregnant women be tested for HIV. Over the years, FCAN has brought together a diverse group of people working with HIV-affected families who have pooled their expertise in identifying critical gaps in services for these families. New, innovative programs have been conceptualized by FCAN committees, including Red Ribbon Trails, a statewide family camping program designed specifically for HIV-affected families. In 2001, FCAN was awarded federal funds to bring families together at two retreats per year -- a four-day/three night family camp and a three-day/two night retreat. At these events, HIV-infected and affected family members are provided with social support, people to talk to, therapeutic interventions, information and education about HIV, recreation and respite, and the opportunity to create long lasting memories.
- Linda Coon
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