WHAT IS WRAPAROUND?
Wraparound differs from many service delivery strategies, in that it provides a comprehensive, holistic, youth and family-driven way of responding when children or youth experience serious mental health or behavioral challenges. Wraparound puts the child or youth and family at the center. With support from a team of professionals and natural supports, the family’s ideas and perspectives about what they need and what will be helpful drive all of the work in Wraparound.
The young person and their family members work with a Wraparound facilitator to build their Wraparound team, which can include the family’s friends and people from the wider community, as well as providers of services and supports.
With the help of the team, the family and young person take the lead in deciding team vision and goals, and in developing creative and individualized services and supports that will help them achieve the goals and vision. Team members work together to put the plan into action, monitor how well it’s working, and change it as needed.
The National Wraparound Initiative and the National Wraparound Implementation Center (NWIC) have developed a variety of resources designed to help families, researchers, practitioners and policy makers understand Wraparound.
Wraparound – before it was even called Wraparound – got started several decades ago as a response to what was obviously *not* working well for children and youth with serious mental health or behavioral challenges, and their families.
Back then, the kinds of intensive and helpful services and supports that children and families needed were often simply not available in their communities. And as for the services that were available, they were often focused on what the systems or providers wanted families and children to do, and not focused on what children and families needed in order to thrive. This meant that children and families would be involved with multiple systems and providers, with each one developing a separate plan telling the child and family what to do.
Not surprisingly, outcomes from this situation were not good. Many children ended up placed in residential treatment far away from their families and communities, often for very long periods of time. After being out of home, it was hard for children to come back and do well in their home communities and schools.
In contrast, Wraparound programs are able to keep children in their communities, producing better outcomes at lower cost.
There is now strong evidence that, when Wraparound is done well (i.e., with “fidelity”), young people with complex needs are more likely to be able to stay in their homes and communities, or, should a crisis occur, to be in out-of-home placements only for short periods of time.
Young people in Wraparound tend to have better outcomes than similar young people who don’t receive Wraparound, across different areas of their lives including mental health, and functioning in their homes, schools and communities. And all of this saves money by minimizing the time that young people spend in out-of-home facilities like residential treatment centers or psychiatric hospitals, which can cost $1000 – $3000 per day.