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Wraparound Programs

Wraparound programs help coordinate services for children with complex healthcare needs — including behavioral health issues — and their families. The structure of wraparound programs can vary greatly; they often include intensive behavioral healthcare planning and case management for eligible individuals, including children, adolescents, and their families.

Wraparound programs are generally family-centric and provided in the home, school, or community setting in order to address a child or family's needs while allowing them to remain in their community. Wraparound services can be particularly important in rural settings, where individuals with complex care needs might otherwise require placement in an out-of-area group home or institutional setting.

Care coordinators often lead the wraparound process in collaboration with family members and professionals, including clinicians, in-home behavioral support specialists, resource coordinators, and others. The National Wraparound Initiative describes the wraparound process as progressing through four phases:

  1. Engagement and team preparation: This phase includes orienting the family and youth to the wraparound program, addressing legal and ethical issues, stabilizing any immediate crises, facilitating conversations with the family and child, and engaging other team members.
  2. Initial plan development: This phase involves developing an initial plan of care and a crisis/safety plan, completing necessary documentation, and addressing logistics. It is generally completed during one or two meetings that take place over the course of one to two weeks. Program staff focus on building trust and mutual respect between the wraparound team, the child, and their family.
  3. Implementation: This phase focuses on implementing the action steps laid out in the initial plan of care. Activities also include monitoring, evaluating, and revising the plan, including celebrating successes and addressing issues of concern. This phase concludes when the team achieves their initial goals and the child no longer requires formal wraparound services.
  4. Transition: In this phase, the team develops a plan to facilitate a purposeful transition out of formal wraparound to a mix of formal and natural supports in the community.

Services provided through wraparound programs can include:

  • Case management (service coordination)
  • Counseling (individual, family, group, youth, and vocational)
  • Crisis care and outreach
  • Education/special education services, tutoring
  • Family support, independent living supports, self-help or support groups
  • Psychiatric consultation, community-based in-patient psychiatric care
  • Health services
  • Legal services, protection and advocacy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Residential treatment, respite care
  • Small therapeutic group care, therapeutic foster care
  • Transportation

Example of a Rural Wraparound Program

Considerations for Implementation

Wraparound programs are collaborations between state or local government agencies and organizations that provide behavioral healthcare and management services. Providing wraparound services requires effective coordination and highly trained staff with sufficient time and resources to address complex cases. This can be a significant challenge in rural areas, where there may be a lack of staff and funding.

Resources to Learn More

Supporting Wraparound Implementation: Overview
This chapter of the National Wraparound Initiative's Resource Guide to Wraparound focuses on the implementation of wraparound programs.
Author(s): Walker, J. S., Suter, J.C., Bruns, E.J., & Miles, P.
Organization(s): National Wraparound Initiative
Date: 2008

Wraparound Basics
This website of the National Wraparound Initiative provides a brief description of the background of the wraparound process, implementation requirements, and staff requirements and training.
Organization(s): National Wraparound Initiative

Youth for Change: Wraparound
This website describes Youth for Change's wraparound program, which it operates in partnership with local governments in rural and semi-rural counties in Northern California.
Organization(s): Youth for Change