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April 2015Vol. 16, No. 3Implementation of Wraparound Services

Children, youth, and families who are involved with more than one child- and family-serving system, such as mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, and special education, may need extra help receiving individualized and coordinated care to best meet their complex needs. Wraparound services aim to emphasize child and family strengths and deliver coordinated, unconditional services to achieve positive outcomes. The Technical Assistance Network for Children's Behavioral Health (TA Network) published an article on how improper implementation of wraparound services can affect child and family outcomes and how wraparound can be implemented properly.

While 20 years of research on wraparound implementation in small and controlled pilot project settings found wraparound services to be associated with increased positive outcomes, the article discusses situations in which wraparound has had less success when implemented in a more "real world" setting. Two studies are examined in which wraparound services were implemented with larger groups of children and youth in Nevada and Ontario, Canada, while a comparison group received more traditional intensive case management. Due to the poor implementation of wraparound components, the outcomes for the wraparound groups were not significantly different than the group that received more traditional case management.

The article explains what it means to "do wraparound well" and what steps systems and programs can take to ensure they are implementing wraparound services properly. These include the following:

  • Effective training, coaching, and supervision, as well as other types of human resource decisions, such as appropriate job descriptions, hiring practices, caseload sizes, performance systems, and staff support, including compensation
  • A focus on an array of systems-level structures, policies, and supports necessary to ensure quality practice-level implementation and positive outcomes

The article includes a link to guidelines for training, coaching, and supervision for wraparound facilitators. Access "Wraparound Is Worth Doing Well: An Evidence-Based Statement," by E.J. Burns, The TA Telescope, 1(2), 2015, at (677 KB).