In honor of American Family Day, Community Connections of New York (CCNY) invites you to learn more about our role in the Erie County Wraparound program. High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW) is a team planning process that is strength-based and family-driven whose primary mission is to avoid removal of children from their homes by promoting the family’s stability, competency, and self-sufficiency. Utilizing a culturally competent strength-based and needs-driven Child & Family Team (CFT) process, families are assisted in developing and organizing supports, services, and resources in order to achieve their goals, vision, and self-sufficiency.
Why does this matter? From a client’s (parent or child) perspective, the absence of Wraparound equates to being shuffled from place to place, filling out forms, waiting in line, being told to go somewhere else, rinse, and repeat whereas the (successful) adoption of Wraparound means you are assigned a caseworker who brings all the services to the table to help you figure out how to stabilize your life. In short, it is a more efficient, coordinated, and holistic approach that requires rigorous training and auditing.
This national best practice was adopted by Erie County shortly before CCNY formed in the crucible of necessity and foresight -specifically as a collaboration between New Directions and Gateway Longview– local non-profits seeking to create a third-party entity to oversee evaluation and quality improvement of programs such as HFW. A decade on, CCNY is proud to be the sole provider of such services to Erie County’s Wraparound. We have also been tasked to manage the Vendor Network for High Fidelity Wraparound and facilitate important program improvement efforts for all participating agencies.
So what makes Erie County’s Wraparound program special? Intake and referral are performed by a cross-departmental team while CCNY ensures consistency across the board and supplies training and follow-up. Standardized trainings are essential as throwing someone into a new job situation with little context or support when there are lives on the line is unlikely to end well. When done right, Wraparound is a team-oriented approach that includes as many different facets of available community resources as possible to address risk, safety, permanency, and well-being. Risk includes but is not limited to physical/ emotional/ sexual abuse, neglect, academic performance/ drop-out, and substance abuse. Although in-home community-based services are designed to prevent separation, sometimes removal is in the best interest of the child. In such cases, caseworkers still try to find a relative who can provide a safe, stable environment.
This year, our Coordinator of Clinical Development, Katie Miller, MA LMHC was certified as a Proficiency-Based Administrator from the National Wraparound Institute. Katie possesses an extensive mental health background specializing in trauma, grief, and loss and was previously in-home clinical therapist. Both she and CCNY saw the value of certification from the National Center For Innovation and Excellence, for even the experts need a refresher from time to time not only to consolidate previous knowledge and gain new insights but to reinforce the importance of adhering to the entire Wraparound model. Hybrid models that do only bits and pieces of the model –that is, fail to incorporate all aspects— do not have the same success rate as those that diligently follow complete model. Its ten major components are illustrated below.
Thus, completing this specialized coursework was a re-affirmation of one’s goals and commitment to the fidelity of the Wraparound model. CCNY’s trainers firmly attest to its efficacy and warn against complacency and skipping steps. Impressively, Katie was able to finish in eight months what typically takes two years to complete (practitioners must recertify every two years), drawing on and incorporating related projects she has been involved in.
The quality of education and investment is paramount in the world of Wraparound. Katie explains that she fell in love with this model because it emphasizes and not enabling. She considers it to be effective and exciting work. Erie’s Wraparound also boasts low turnover due to comprehensive adherence to these best practices. Another colleague, who is now a trainer at CCNY, was previously a Care Coordinator at New Directions for twenty years and was trained alongside Katie. They agree that when Wraparound is done properly, burnout is rare.
Our lovely trainer, Sherry Conlan and CCNY’s Terrier-in-Chief, Mya.
Despite the level of commitment required, it is not the norm for families to decline services. Typically speaking, they want Wraparound, many of them having benefited from it years ago and being familiar enough with it to seek services for their own children in the event their family dynamics take a turn for the worse. Some may end up struggling a bit with finances even after their mental health or family needs are addressed but now they at least know where to get help.
In addition to her role at CCNY, Katie also teaches at Bryant & Stratton College. This summer, she led two fully booked QPR suicide prevention certification sessions at D’Youville College.
Resources for additional information on National Wraparound Practices can be found at https://nwi.pdx.edu.
Click here to watch a TED talk by Dr. John VanDenBerg (board member of NCFIE) about the importance of adapting services for children with complex needs and of striving to keep families together.