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Helping kids in need

February 22, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - As a family advocate hired to support Washington County families caring for children with mental health issues, Vivian Miller says she knows what many of them face. And it's not from reading about it in books.

"I have a 12-year-old son with four mental disorders so I know what it's like," Miller said from her office at 33 W. Washington St., Room 210.

When she first came on board, Miller sent 300 letters in December to everyone she could think of who would be interested in the issues faced by families with such children, both at home and at school.

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"I wanted them to know there is no cost associated with any of the services I offer," Miller said. "And I wanted them to know they aren't alone."

A Garrett County, Md., native, Miller, 36, has a 19-year-old daughter from her first marriage and a 12-year-old son from her second marriage. Her son, while highly functional, can't sit still or focus on tasks.

"He has attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and perseverance developmental disorder," Miller said. "And he is also autistic."

Last spring, Miller attended a meeting sponsored by the Washington County Community Partnership for Families and Children.

"As a parent, I started to volunteer to help out because there are a lot of frustrated parents out there," she said.

After she volunteered for a while, Miller was approached last summer when the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health decided to hire a child advocate for Washington County.

A graduate of Northern High School in Accident, Md., Miller is taking classes at Villa Maria residential treatment center in Baltimore to learn more about available programs.

Miller works for the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children's Mental Health, which is based in Columbia, Md. She shares office space with the Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families.

"I love children and I don't care what's wrong with them," Miller said. "I believe all children should be seen and heard."

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