I’ll go ahead and admit it. Wraparound is my favorite program of FCNI’s. I just love it. I love that it is truly a collaborative effort that involves a lot of different agencies--the Department of Social Services, FCNI, Behavioral Health, schools, probation, as well as individuals who are hand-selected by families to be part of their support team. I also love that while services are often started because of the concerns facing one child or youth in a family, it is actually the entire family who is brought into the treatment process, as services are designed to “wraparound” the whole family unit so that no need is left unmet. And lastly, I love that Wraparound is truly a journey, and there are no preconceived notions that families can be healed or strengthened by quick fixes or band-aid approaches. It’s a journey taken in partnership--one forged in trust--between experienced and educated staff, and the families who know themselves, their needs and their goals for their futures best.
As a long time employee of FCNI, getting to witness, learn about, or share in the journeys of our Wraparound families is always a joy. Every story is as heartbreaking as it is inspiring. While every Wraparound family experiences a lot of darkness, their push towards the light--no matter the obstacles--is a great example of human resilience, and often renews my hope in the world!
I recently got to meet Jonas*, a young man whose life prior to Wraparound was far from ideal. As the oldest of his half-siblings, Jonas and his mother struggled to rebuild their relationship after some time of separation due to his mother’s mental health issues. Conflict in the family had become commonplace, and often escalated to physical altercations that led to law enforcement involvement to ensure everyone’s safety. Jonas’ mom and step-dad had no idea how to become a more unified front to support Jonas and his increasing needs, nor could they keep the other family members safe from the fighting and instability it caused. The family also faced financial and housing problems, and weren’t always able to meet even their most basic needs, but these issues all had to take a backseat to everything else.
When Jonas’ family started in Wraparound, staff were blown away by their openness. As I’ve said, Wraparound is a journey. And like every successful journey, it can’t be done without vital resources, support, and reliable navigation--this is where the team process comes in. But if you’re not open to all of these tools and input, you’re in for a very difficult climb. Thankfully, Jonas and his family welcomed their team’s support, and were active participants in learning new skills, accessing critical resources, and reimagining their goals for a more hopeful future. Jonas’s parents worked closely with their Parent Partner, learning as much as they could from her--utilizing her past experience and learned skills. The rest of the family benefitted from mental health therapy, and relationship building and behavior modeling with Rehabilitation Specialists. Additionally, the family was able to focus more of their energies on healing and rebuilding because all of their basic needs were met.
It is not easy to open your home and your lives to the Wraparound process. Just think on this for a minute--welcoming outsiders into the sanctity of your family, allowing them to divulge your private struggles and challenges, as well as expose all the issues between you. It takes a family with a lot of courage and a strong commitment to the process for someone to even think about this, let alone participate in it. While much should be said for our Wraparound staff--they are compassionate people who strive to build trust and good rapport with their families--there is no journey without the family’s willingness to be vulnerable and engaged.
Today, Jonas and his family are enjoying a post-Wraparound life. While their journey took a lot of work and time, they successfully achieved their Wraparound goals and came out the other side a more bonded and unified family. One of the most telling aspects of this family’s journey might be the one major hurdle they faced near the end of their time in Wraparound. Jonas’ mom suffered a major medical emergency right when services were scheduled to end. As a family, they asked for Wraparound support to continue and the team agreed. As a result, the family continued to grow and bond through the unexpected challenge--every single member “rose to the occasion” by taking on additional responsibilities to support the whole family, especially Jonas, who demonstrated immense growth as an individual and as a son. Once Jonas’ mom’s health stabilized, the family was once again ready to “graduate” to full independence.
Jonas and his family’s journey paints a wonderful picture of why Wraparound is so successful and so necessary. Sometimes in life, difficult circumstances can create impossible obstacles, and left without support or resources, families can find themselves separated and/or alienated from one another and their communities, with no hope in sight. Wraparound intercedes on behalf of these families, equipping parents and children with the skills, tools, resources and connections that can make every hurdle they face crossable. We love families like Jonas’, and relish in the joy of seeing them empowered to not only heal their hurts, but to also rebuild their hope and recommit themselves to being a family. While never easy, the Wraparound journey is always worth the work!
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*Names and details have been changed to protect client confidentiality