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June 2017Vol. 18, No. 4Wraparound Implementation and Practice Quality Standards

Outcomes for families and children involved with child welfare are highly dependent on program and system factors and how well available services function. These factors include adequacy and appropriateness of funding, caseloads, workforce development, and system policies. Wraparound Implementation and Practice Quality Standards is a brief produced through a collaboration between the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Technical Assistance Network for Children's Behavioral Health, the National Wraparound Initiative, and the National Wraparound Implementation Center. It provides information on the ever-changing field of wraparound services and systems of care by building on previous work by the National Wraparound Initiative. The brief focuses on a summary of research-, theory-, and practice-based standards regarding five implementation-related areas and two output-related areas.

These seven areas are central to developing and implementing wraparound services and should adhere to the following standards:

  • Implementation Related
    • Competent staff—Wraparound service organizations should maintain a stable workforce of qualified personnel hired through a rigorous process that begins with high-quality written job descriptions. The process should also include an interview and selection protocols that include behavioral questions or direct observation of tasks and require a writing exercise or sample. These staff should also be effectively trained, fulfill an initial apprenticeship before taking on a full caseload, and participate in ongoing coaching and performance assessments.
    • Effective leadership—Supervisors should be inspiring, thoughtful, and innovative. They should provide well-defined performance goals while also insuring staff have the resources they need to meet those goals. Leaders should also provide transparent procedures for decision-making within the wraparound provider organization as well as be able to address and find solutions for wraparound implementation barriers as they arise.
    • Facilitative organizational support—Workers should be given manageable caseloads of 8–12 families or fewer, and supervisors should manage only six or fewer workers. Staff should also be adequately compensated commensurate to their experience and have the physical resources they need to perform their jobs. The wraparound provider organization should have a sustainable funding plan for the next three to five years.
    • Utility-focused accountability mechanisms—The wraparound provider should routinely evaluate trainings in order to continuously improve upon existing methods, practice effective data management, routinely monitor adherence to the wraparound model, and monitor youth and family outcomes as well as service costs and savings.
    • Hospitable system conditions—Wraparound programs should serve the appropriate populations, namely youth at risk of out-of-home placement or those with the most complex needs. These services should also be adequately publicized, available, and accessible to the target population and feature a robust array of services and supports, such as intensive in-home services, mentoring, respite, family and youth peer support, and mobile crisis response and stabilization. In addition, all agencies involved in the wraparound program should coordinate their work with the various partner agencies and providers and implement a single wraparound plan for each youth and family.
  • Outcome Related
    • Fidelity: High-quality wraparound practice—Youth and families referred to wraparound services should be engaged in the program within 10 days of the referral. All wraparound providers should work together to develop, implement, and monitor the individualized service plans, and all team members should take ownership of their assigned tasks.
    • Outcomes: Improved youth and family functioning—Successful outcomes include improved functioning in school, the community, and within the family. They should also include increased caregiver confidence and a stable living environment for youth. These all lead to a positive exit from wraparound services.

These wraparound standards may be used in a variety of ways, including as a guided self-assessment of wraparound program quality, providing structure to the planning process, assisting in choosing data elements to incorporate into a continuous quality improvement program, and informing performance-based contracting.

To read Wraparound Implementation and Practice Quality Standards, visit (343 KB).