Community-Based Positive Supports

How Can Communities Wrap Services Around a Child or Adult?

An important type of practice, wraparound planning, was created as a way to support children and youth with serious mental health challenges. The wraparound model was a response to what was not working for children and young people with challenging behavior and their families. In the past, services were organized based on what providers, hospitals, and other organizations chose to provide to children and adults. Services were not always based on what the child or young person needed to be successful and happy living in their homes and communities. Wraparound planning provides a way to tailor the services and supports to each child or adult.

When multiple services are needed, communication can be challenging. Even today, families often have to navigate multiple services and systems to support their child with little or no communication occurring between each of the services provided. This means that family and caregivers are attending multiple meetings that result in more than one plan of action for a person in each separate type of service provided. Wraparound planning is meant to streamline planning efforts so only one plan is made with services wrapped around a child or adult. In one state implementing wraparound, a team member supporting one child talked about how they were achieving this goal between education and mental health systems:

...if we schedule them [plans across services] together, then the parent only has to be inconvenienced one time... Recently, we’re trying really hard to get our IEP goals and our area mental health treatment goals to somewhat match so, especially at school…we can all be working on towards the same thing and it’s been very successful. -[focus group participant]

-Matthews et al., 2018

The key features of wraparound planning include:

  • Team-based planning
  • Focusing on the strengths of the child and building on supports from family, caregivers, and friends
  • Action planning that result in improved social and emotional strengths and quality of life
  • Coordinating services together as a team
  • Connecting to community-based natural supports
  • Respecting the cultural values, beliefs, and preferences of the person receiving support
  • Community partnership: Key allies and partners including people receiving supports, families, agencies, providers, and community members work together to solve problems
  • Collaborative action: Services are coordinated by allies and partners to create a unified plan
  • Planning for sustainability: Funds are used to develop long-term supports for a person using wraparound
  • Access to supports and services: The community works together to make sure people can access the supports they need
  • Training and assistance: Coaching and mentoring is provided to the team implementing wraparound
  • Accountability: Wraparound plans are assessed and outcomes are measures to make sure the plans are a success

-Adapted from the National Wraparound Initiative