The Vroon VDB (VVDB) theory of change articulates a hypothesis about why the wraparound process will cause sustainable outcomes for youth and families, why wraparound works, and why it is different from other services and processes. It also sets expectations for what we want to accomplish with and for youth and families. Simply put the Theory of Change is:
Meeting the self-defined needs of youth and families, enhancing their confidence and skills to get their own needs met through purposeful transition, and strengthening their natural support network while integrating efforts of the people helping them will result in improved engagement, self-efficacy, social support, and sustainability of positive outcomes.
This is a powerful but dense definition, so let’s break it down a little bit. The sentence is patterned on the following formula: if we do a,b, and c, then x,y, and z will happen. What do we need to do to provide successful, high quality wraparound?
- Meet the self-defined needs of youth and families
- We have to meet the needs our families have so their situations can improve
- But not just any needs, we need to meet the needs they choose (along with legally mandated needs). This requires voice for us to hear their needs and choice to let them prioritize needs and select the options for plans that will best meet their needs.
- Enhance their confidence and skills to get their own needs met
- We won’t always be there. Real change comes when families learn the skills they need to meet their own needs (present and future).
- Part of teaching families to meet their own needs is empowering them to have the confidence and skills to address their own needs.
- Through purposeful transition
- We know that families will face many more challenges after wraparound ends than during the wraparound process. It is a simple matter of time – after they graduate, they still have the rest of their lives to live. Meeting the needs of families during wraparound has limited value if we aren’t helping them develop the skills they need to deal with their needs on their own. Everything we do in wraparound is working towards this goal.
- Strengthen their natural support network while integrating the efforts of the people helping them
- No man is an island, it takes a village, whichever way you want to say it: we all need help. Our families need help from their own communities that will stick around well past their wraparound graduation. Part of our job is to help them build and strengthen these networks.
- We also need to make sure that everyone (natural supports as well as caseworkers, juvenile justice advocates, therapists, school counselors, etc… involved with the family) are working together towards the family’s goals.
If we successfully do all that, then our Theory of Change says that we will see the following outcomes:
- Improved engagement – families will be more invested in their own process
- Improved self-efficacy – families will be able to do more for themselves
- Improved social support – families will have a stronger social network
- Improved integration of effort – teams will work smarter, everyone will pull together
- Improved sustainability of positive outcomes – in the long run, the families will do better
The VVDB theory of change for wraparound begins with purposeful transition. This theory says that if we can meet the needs families choose for themselves, build up their confidence and skills to meet their own needs in the future, and help them build up their social networks in a way that helps them reach out when they need something, then we will see positive results. Specifically, we will see families who are more invested in the wraparound process, who can do more for themselves, with strong social support networks, and the ability to create lasting quality of life improvements.