Child & Family Teams: The Wraparound Process
The wraparound process is a way to improve the lives of children with complex needs and their families. It is not a program or a type of service. The process is used by communities to support children with complex needs and their families by developing individualized plans of care. The key characteristics of the process are that the plan is developed by a youth centered team, is individualized based on the strengths and culture of the child and their family, and is needs rather than services driven.
The Individualized Plan
The actual individualized plan is developed by a wraparound team, which consists of the family and the three to seven people who care and know the child and family best. For children in DHS custody, the foster parent or an individual designated in the permanency plan may fill the family role. The team is selected by the family and typically has no more than half professionals. The individualized plan is child-centered and family-focused with maximum family involvement, with variation depending on the needs of the child and family. The process focuses on strengthening the natural family, extended family, and social supports for the child by involving them in the planning and implementation process. Family members are integral parts of the team and must have ownership of the plan. No planning sessions occur without the presence of the family.
The plan is based on the unique strengths, needs, values, norms, preferences, and culture of the child, family, and community. No interventions are allowed in the plan unless they have matching child, family, and community strengths. By building on these strengths, the plan supports who the child is and how the child will positively progress in life. The plan is focused on typical needs in life domain areas that all persons (of like age, sex, culture) have. These life domains are: independence, family, living situation, financial, educational, social, recreational, behavioral, emotional, health, legal, cultural, safety, and others.
All services and supports must be culturally competent. That is to say, services and supports must be tailored to the unique culture of the child and family. Family culture refers to family race and ethnicity as well as family habits, preferences, beliefs, language, rituals, and dress, based on, "one family at a time".
The child and family team and agency staff who provide services and supports must make a commitment to persistence in delivery of services and supports. When things do not go well, the child and family are not "kicked out", but rather, the individualized services and supports are changed. Services and supports are community-based. When residential treatment or hospitalization is accessed, these service modalities are to be used as stabilization resources and not as placements that operate outside of the plan produced by the child and family team. Planning, services, and supports cut across traditional agency boundaries through multi-agency involvement and funding. Governments at regional and local levels work together with providers to improve services. Outcome measures are identified and individual wraparound plans are frequently evaluated.
Phases of Wraparound Practice
Phase One Engagement and Team Preparation During this phase, the groundwork for trust and shared vision among the family and wraparound team members is established, so people are prepared to come to meetings and collaborate. This phase, particularly through the initial conversations about strengths, needs, and culture, sets the tone for teamwork and team interactions that are consistent with the wraparound principles. The activities of this phase should be completed relatively quickly (within 1-2 weeks if possible), so that the team can begin meeting and establish ownership of the process as quickly as possible.
Phase Two Initial Plan Development
During this phase, team trust and mutual respect are built while creating an initial plan of care using a high quality planning process that reflects the wraparound principles. In particular, youth and family should feel, during this phase, that they are heard, that the needs chosen are ones they want to work on, and that the options chosen have a reasonable chance of helping them meet these needs. This phase should be completed during one or two meetings that take place within 1-2 weeks; a rapid time frame intended to promote team cohesion and shared responsibility toward achieving the teamís mission or overarching goal.
Phase Three Implementation
During this phase, the initial wraparound plan is implemented, progress and successes are continually reviewed, and changes are made to the plan and then implemented, all while maintaining or building team cohesiveness and mutual respect. The activities of this phase are repeated until the teamís mission is achieved and formal wraparound is no longer needed.
Phase Four Transition
During this phase, plans are made for a purposeful transition out of formal wraparound to a mix of formal and natural supports in the community (and, if appropriate, to services and supports in the adult system). The focus on transition is continual during the wraparound process, and the preparation for transition is apparent even during the initial engagement activities.