Since 1963, the lives of thousands of psychiatric patients in the United States have been drastically and dramatically changed by a national policy change to community-based mental health care. Faults in the implementation of that policy have often placed the burden of care for these patients in the hands of their families. Several years ago, a self-help group composed of par ents of chronically mentally ill adults founded two small residential facilities for their patient-children. One facility was intended to be an innovative attempt to provide care for this population but quickly became a facility like those established by professionals. The other facility unintentionally pre served the model of the first. This study looks at the development of the par ents' self-help group, the two facilities, and the conflicts that developed because of these attempts to provide formal services to the mentally ill.