Supporting the Whole Family – The Role of Wraparound

No matter where you are in your parenting journey, as in still figuring out how to change diapers with one hand or celebrating your now-grown child’s adult milestones, one thing does not change, the support you need to succeed. While Vista Del Mar offers an umbrella of support systems to help families thrive in every stage of their lives, a significant part of our mission focuses on anticipating and filling the gaps in services provided. One division that exemplifies the evolving need for expanded care is Connections, Vista’s Wraparound Service. Connections, and its dedicated staff aim to remove any barrier of care by providing a family or at-risk youth with the services they need to succeed at every stage.

Nationally, Wraparound services began decades ago to respond to the needs of families with a child experiencing a serious mental health or behavioral challenges. The primary difference between intensive treatments that existed before Wraparound is that they often resulted in a separation between the family and child. In contrast, Wraparound Services addressed the complex needs of families through individual case management while lessening the instances of family separation, resulting in more children staying in their homes and communities. Wraparound Team members achieve family unity by providing personalized, holistic care that considers each individual in the equation.

Recent legislation passed in 2021 under the Family First Prevention Act signed into California law further expands our ability to help two important groups- pregnant and parenting foster youth and children entering the foster care system. Director of Connections, Mary Martone, shares that these added services will be instrumental in teaching new parents the options they need for their families while helping them continue their education. For children entering the system, immediate access to wraparound services can forever change a family’s fortune by providing stability during such an uncertain and difficult period.

To truly understand the benefits of Wraparound is to sit with a family that has grown stronger because of it. Last month Susan Castruita and her newly adopted son Joshua invited me to attend a session with their team to show how Wraparound Services work to address the individual needs of a newly adopted family. Susan believes that too few from the outside world understand the process and that, “the general public assumes that once the adoption is finalized that everything is A-okay. In reality, as an adoptive parent you know that’s not the case. Trauma induced by the child’s earlier experiences does not just go away. It requires the team-centric and individually tailored support provided by our Wrap team.”

That team that Susan mentioned is at the heart of Wraparound services, as this program operates as a client-tailored, team-driven, solution-based process. Team members are there to respond with personalized, holistic care that considers the entire family in the equitation. Susan credits her preparation for her role as a foster mom to the coaching and preparation offered by Vista’s Wraparound team. Susan adds, “I would not have been prepared to raise a child who experienced trauma were it not for the education I received by the amazing staff here.”

For Susan’s son Joshua, he gauges the effectiveness of Wraparound Services by his team’s ability to identify common interests between him and the team members. Joshua adds that “knowing that my therapists and I are both into gaming, definitely gave me a way to connect with him.” Clear communication is another component necessary for the wrap family dynamic to work- “the biggest thing- and the reason wrap works for me is that the team communicates not just to me but each other. That high level of communication tells me everyone is on the same page, and everyone is there to help.”

The needs of a family are fluid and can change rapidly based on an unexpected circumstance or event. Wraparound operates as a client-tailored, team-driven, solution-based process. From the start, a child and family team is formed and works directly with both as they identify their own needs and strengths. During this time, the team develops a service plan that describes specific strategies for meeting the needs identified by the family. By fulfilling the core principles of the Wrap Program, families can confidently navigate any situation that arises, knowing that they are surrounded by a compassionate support team dedicated to overcoming any obstacle in their path.