The seven women in this picture came together in 1972 over a hamburger lunch. Their shared concern: Houston was becoming a world-class city but lacked treatment facilities for children with serious mental health disorders. Their concern became a mission as they began to work with local agencies and organizations to mobilize resources to fill this gap. This led to the birth of CAN-DO-IT (Children: Action Now Developing Options in Treatment) in 1974. CAN-DO-IT became a catalyst for merging money, manpower, and facilities to meet the needs of seriously mentally ill children.
In 1978, the first dream became reality when Bayou Place was established on the DePelchin Children’s Center campus. Bayou Place was the first residential treatment facility in Houston for children with serious mental health needs. In the following years, the organization was renamed Houston Advocates for Mentally Ill Children (HAMIC) and continued to advocate for treatment options for children with serious mental health disorders.
In 1991 , HAMIC began to pivot to the other end of the spectrum – prevention of mental health disorders – with the creation of the Parents Under Construction™ program (PUC). The goal of Parents Under Construction was to promote mental health by teaching preschool – high school students parenting skills they would need in the future. Considered a primary prevention program (i.e., stopping poor parenting practices and abuse before they could start), PUC continues to be widely adapted in schools throughout Houston and as far away as England and Latvia. The program is proven effective in numerous evaluations and received several awards.