Rosie D.
Reforming the Mental Health System in Massachusetts

Step 6: The Wraparound Planning Process

Wraparound is a planning process that builds on children’s strengths, empowers their families, appreciates their cultures, and “wraps” services around their needs.  The Wraparound philosophy drives treatment planning and determines activities that can enable children with serious emotional disturbance to grow up at home and, together with their families, achieve positive outcomes. 


There are ten core principles that guide the Wraparound process:

·         Individualized: To achieve the goals laid out in the in the wraparound plan, the team develops and implements a customized set of strategies, supports, and services.

·         Family voice and choice: Family and youth perspectives are intentionally elicited and prioritized during all phases of the wraparound process.  Planning is grounded in family members’ perspectives, and the team strives to provide options and choices such that the plan reflects family values and preferences.

·         Community-based: The wraparound team implements service and support strategies that take place in the most inclusive, most responsive, most accessible, and least restrictive settings possible; and that safely promote child and family integration into home and community life.

·         Collaboration: Team members work cooperatively and share responsibility for developing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating a single wraparound plan.  The plan reflects a blending of team members’ perspectives, mandates, and resources.  The plan guides and coordinates each team member’s work towards meeting the team’s goals.

·         Culturally relevant:  The wraparound process demonstrates respect for, and builds on, the values, preferences, beliefs, culture, and identity of the youth and family, and their community


·         Team based: The wraparound team consists of individuals agreed upon by the family and committed to the family through informal, formal, and community support and service relationships.


·         Natural Supports: The team actively seeks out and encourages the full participation of team members drawn from family members’ networks of interpersonal and community relationships.  The wraparound plan reflects activities and interventions that draw on sources of natural support.


·         Strengths based: The wraparound process and the wraparound plan identify, build on, and enhance the capabilities, knowledge, skills, and assets of the youth and family, their community, and other team members.


·         Unconditional: A wraparound team does not give up on, blame, or reject youth and their families. When faced with challenges or setbacks, the team continues to work towards meeting the needs of the youth and family and towards achieving the goals in the wraparound plan until the team reached agreement that a formal wraparound process is no longer necessary.


·         Outcome based: The team ties the goals and strategies of the wraparound plan to observable or measurable indicators of success, monitors progress in terms of these indicators, and revises the plan accordingly.


Wraparound is a dramatic change from the current system of planning and providing mental health services to children where professionals are in charge and families are expected to be passive participants and accept what is offered.  Wraparound turns this model on its head and puts families in charge.  Wraparound is about family empowerment.  But empowerment, like other structural reform, does not occur easily or immediately.  Because the Wraparound planning process listens to families, values their participation, honors their preferences, and respects their culture, it is a new opportunity for families to be in control of the care provided to their children.


For a more detailed description of wraparound, read the Feature on the Wraparound Process.


Click here for Step 7: The Care Plan

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