“Communication is the act of conveying a message from one person to another. In public relations, that message is conveyed through a variety of vehicles that make up the public relations practitioner’s tools.” (Fitch, pp. 23) In my profession, it seems more apparent that families are not receiving the appropriate information when referred to our agency. We are explaining the process and what is expected of families more often than we have needed to in the past. With the prevalence of the internet and ease of access of information, one would assume that parents and families would have a greater understanding of the wraparound process. Unfortunately, this is not the case. As facilitators, we undergo various trainings designed to explain the wraparound process and provide concrete strategies to engage families in the process. While the facilitator is an essential component of the wraparound team and key to the ultimate success of any wraparound case, an opportunity to educate the family is lacking. With this essay, I am proposing a handbook for families, explaining the wraparound process and what to expect from the Child and Family Team and facilitators. I will begin with explaining the initial meeting. While there are many topics that could be addressed with a written handbook, it seems that families would be well served to be given the opportunity to learn about the wraparound process in order they receive full benefit from our services. The family is an important component of the process and the most successful outcomes have resulted from an educated family.
This wraparound handbook was developed for individuals who will be directly responsible for developing and implementing wraparound plans. The handbook focuses on the steps which are generally associated with developing creative, needs driven plans with families. The steps are broken out in each section with a narrative description detailing the function of each step as well as helpful tips for effectively completing each task. It is important to remember that this handbook only focuses on one aspect of wraparound. That focus is on plan development and early team formation. Other tasks which occur after the initial planning meeting include maintaining a family centered, needs driven focus and maintaining a team over time. The initial plan should be changed often as the needs of the child and family change. This activity represents a first step in moving towards a wraparound process. It does assume that basic values of wraparound, including unconditional care, family centered support, strength based service creation as well as family access, voice and ownership have already been integrated by the facilitator.
The first step in developing a wraparound plan begins long before the initial planning meeting. When an individual decides to facilitate such a plan, they should spend time with the family and other key individuals who are involved in the direct care of the child. These initial conversations will make or break the initial planning meeting. If individuals who will be participating have an understanding of the process and alliances have been formed with the facilitator, chances are greater that a team which is effective will be formed. Which in turn, promote actions which will make life better for the child and family. The person facilitating the wraparound plan has to do their homework on both a family and system level. There is no short-cut for this activity. Time invested up front will keep the facilitator from being surprised later on.
There are certain deliverables or concrete products which come out of this initial step in getting ready for a wraparound meeting. The process of gathering these concrete products is informal and conversational. Various facilitators will approach developing these items differently. When dealing with key individuals, including parents, it is