Because mental health professionals began to see the need to assist children across various life settings, a system of care management known as wraparound services came into existence in the 1980’s. These programs incorporate the natural support systems of clients, along with various agency personnel and community representatives, to address children’s dynamic needs. Natural supports include family members, extended family, other caregivers, teachers and physicians, among others. The “wraparound” label refers to the fact that services are intended to wrap around the child in a way that supports him in all aspects of his life.
These services have become quite common and are often referred to simply as “wraparound.” In this system, members of the child’s natural support group and agency professionals come together to form a treatment team that will communicate and work to help the child to overcome problematic mental health or behavioral issues. A psychological professional meets with the child for assessment and to determine a diagnosis. Therapeutic goals will be set, along with measurement criteria, and the team will work with the child across the settings of home, school and community in order to teach new behaviors, monitor progress and revise the treatment plan as current objectives are met.
The team is usually led by a certified psychologist. A mental health agency representative is charged with writing the treatment plan, facilitating communication among team members and overseeing the client’s case. This method of treatment is said to be “strength-based” in that the foundation of the overall plan is the strengths in the child’s life. Such strengths may be a supportive family, the child’s talents or unique personality traits, a strong school support system or neighbors who watch out for each other. Wraparound services also strive to be culturally competent and to empower the family by consulting them regarding the client’s needs and progress.
Services in Wraparound
While there are often additional assistance provided depending on the client’s particular issues, wraparound is usually made up primarily of a core group of services. Psychological evaluations are given at regular intervals. The primary evaluation is used to assess the client’s current level of functioning, make diagnoses and to recommend treatment methods. Each child receiving assistance under the wraparound umbrella will usually be assigned three primary team members to guide specific areas of the treatment plan. A Behavioral Specialist Consultant (BSC) usually holds a Master’s level degree in some aspect of psychology and is charged with implementing a behavior modification plan based on each child’s needs. A Mobile Therapist (MT) is a Master’s level clinician who provides individual and family counseling in the home or community settings. Finally, Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) members works one-on-one with the child in order to reinforce appropriate strategies in adherence with the child’s treatment plan.
What makes this method of treatment successful is the cooperation of representatives across various settings, all following the same plan and working with the goal of helping the child. Wraparound services have proven effective in ensuring children with mental health diagnoses are able to remain within their support networks.