Category: Announcements

Our Youth Support Partner Textbook is Here

Youth Support Partners (YSP) can add an incredible amount of value to a program. They can reach kids who are otherwise unreachable, and create family and youth engagement at unparalleled rates. Youth Support Partners do a lot of things that are similar to what Family Support Partners do, and they also have some overlap with Wraparound Facilitators. However, they have their own discreet set of primary responsibilities.

The Youth Support Partner Textbook is the very first High Fidelity Wraparound textbook specifically tailored to the Youth Support Partner Role. It contains everything a YSP needs to go from a brand new staff member to a certified professional.

YSP Cover

The textbook contains the same integrated Foundations of Wraparound training material as our Wraparound Facilitator and Family Support Partner books – this allows coaches to train everyone together, which creates the best flexibility and team environment. The YSP Textbook also contains YSP specific shadowing and behavioral rehearsal exercises after the appropriate chapters, and a certification manual specific to the YSP role in the appendices. Like all of our books, it is designed to work with a trainer in a small or larger class, or one on one with a coach.

We are so excited to be able to offer this tangible support to communities everywhere who are making this important step towards fidelity. Youth Support Partners are part of the future of wraparound, and this book can help you make them a reality for your program.

Moving Florida Case Management to Wraparound: A Targeted Workshop

Wraparound and Case Management have a lot of Medicaid codes in common, but are vastly different ways to work. However, many agencies around the country who want to start using the High Fidelity Wraparound Model are best positioned to transfer some of their case workers over (and perhaps not even full time). Other agencies want to practice targeted case management, but using the principles, theory of change, and activities from wraparound.

Knowing this, we have developed a new workshop to help agencies in this situation get started the right way. Receive this training and then be equipped to coach your Case Management staff to utilize High Fidelity Wraparound. This training is designed to prepare Case Managers to facilitate wraparound as well as to prepare supervisors to coach and certify their own local facilitators.


The following will be reviewed during the training

  • Innovations in Wraparound
  • Transitioning “broker type” case managers to facilitate high fidelity wraparound
  • Preparing to utilize the Florida Medicaid funded “Wraparound code”
  • Orientation & Introduction – our orientation is planned around a polarity exercise that helps students understand the big picture of wraparound in a very concrete way as a foundation for all the detailed training.
  • Engagement- covers each of the activities of the engagement phases. The training in this section are focused on concrete strategies for successfully helping families do the wraparound process.
  • Planning – these sections cover the planning process in detail, with more functional activities and numerous new strategies to improve family participation, brainstorming, and quality plans and crisis plans.
  • Implementation – this section covers new concepts to support sustained progress by families such as purposeful transition, transition assets, and the culture of support plus the strategies for using motivational interviewing to create better long term engagement of the youth, family, and team.
  • Transition – under the new model, most of transition preparation happens in the preceding phases and is covered in those sections. This section offers new exercises and a focus on long term sustainability.
  • Special Topics –cover topics that are essential to wraparound success, like how to identify, nurture, develop, or create natural supports, and how to build your local system of care.

We would love to see you there. Read more about the training, including how to register, here: Florida Workshop.

What Do Coaches Do?

There are just a few spots left for our next national Coaching Workshop on November 16 – November 19, 2015, in beautiful Red Rocks, Colorado. We all know that coaches are important, but what exactly can a good, certified coach do? A lot – here are some examples directly from our Coaching curriculum:

  • Ensure that the agency is providing high fidelity, best practices wraparound, including.
  • Develop a process for selecting the right people to provide wraparound. Picking the right staff can be very important to continuity, overall staff satisfaction, and resource management.
  • Provide high quality initial orientation and one-on-one small group training or larger group training for new staff. This negates the need for outside trainers or expensive workshops, and gets all new staff started the right way as soon as possible.
  • Use shadowing, behavioral rehearsals, and live coaching to help staff reach and maintain fidelity quickly.
  • Do ongoing assessment of staff learning and wraparound style professional development plans.
  • Help create and grow a learning organization.
  • Create a peer-to-peer learning system that harnesses the sharing that is already happening.

Having good internal coaches can make a system work in a self-sustainable way. This workshop teaches the tools you need to be the kind of coach who makes a difference in your agency.  This 4-day wraparound coach training teaches a competency-based process for supporting staff to provide high fidelity wraparound.

You can read more about it, as well as register, here.

Our Next Coach Workshop is Scheduled

We have spent a lot of time talking about the importance of coaches to reaching and maintaining fidelity in wraparound. That is because having your own certified coach(es) is the number one simplest, quickest, most cost effective way to increase the quality of services your agency provides.

Having certified coaches in house is also good for staff good for the individual coaches, and good for the learning organization.

We are happy to announce that we have scheduled our next national coach training at beautiful Red Rocks, Colorado. We will be gathering up an coming coaches from around the country from November 16-19. We would love to have you join us.

You can read more about the workshop, as well as register, here:  Coaching Workshop 2015.

The New Foundations of Wraparound Workshop

We have done a lot of wraparound trainings, both as a company and as individual professionals. From the thousands of staff we’ve trained (many of whom we were able to track to find out what they actually took from the training into their work with families through their certification process), we have learned a lot about how adults learn, and what kinds of techniques on our end create results. At the end of the day, a training is only worth the change it creates in actual practice. We are proud to say that our new Foundations training is the best it has ever been.

Our Foundations training is the first level of wraparound training for any wraparound staff. It is designed to teach Wraparound Facilitators, Family Support Partners, and Youth Support Partners how to do their jobs. However, it is equally beneficial to anyone who will be working in or closely with wraparound (like coaches, supervisors, project managers, and key partners). The training takes place over four days. There are two days of training, then a break in which staff work with families and accomplish specific tasks. A few weeks later, we hold the third and fourth days of training. We individualize each training to the agency it is held for, but the basic training schedule looks like this:

training schedule

The morning of the first day emphasizes the theory and major components of wraparound (the history, principles, phases and activities, theory of change, and staff roles), while creating excitement for the possibilities of the wraparound process. Starting the afternoon of the first day, we focus on the specific activities of wraparound, explaining them in terms of what actually happens, strategies for success, common challenges and solutions, and how they fit into the larger process. We focus on why wraparound works and practical advice for how to actually do wraparound. This combination of detailed skills and general understanding sets wraparound practitioners up for maximum success working with real families.

We break training up for a few important reasons. First, it is very difficult for many staff to sit through four days of training all at once. Not only do they not usually enjoy the experience, but they don’t learn very much from the third and fourth days. By breaking up the training this way, we see a marked increase in retention. Second, adults learn better when they have time to process and use new information. Having them take a few weeks to try out the information they learned in the first part of training allows them to turn that information into long term memory. When they come back for the second half, they are ready to add new information to what they already know. Third, the Strengths, Needs, and Culture Discovery (SNCD) is the foundation of high fidelity wraparound. You simply cannot do high fidelity wraparound without solid SNCDs.  Covering the SNCDs in depth during the second day, having staff do an SNCD during the break, and then reviewing, improving, and using those SNCDs during the third day gives staff the best chance of learning how to do one well.

A key difference between our program and many others is that we do initial training of all the key positions together. This is intentional, and serves several purposes. First, Wraparound Facilitator and Support Partners have overlapping jobs. Since this is true, they need to be trained together. You can read more about this here.

Our Foundations training is built on the idea that people learn best when things are presented in a format that makes sense to them. With a large group of people, you will probably have many different learning styles represented. This is why we use a mixture of lecture, visuals, group work, solitary reflection, video clips, physical activities, and group discussion to cover the material. This results in the highest possible training transfer average across the group. You can read more about this here.

When you are getting started (either with wraparound in general or with high fidelity wraparound from “wraparound style”), you can and should have a big class to get everyone on the same page (we help agencies do this all the time).  But when you have the ongoing trickle of new staff starting in ones and twos, you need a curriculum designed to teach High Fidelity Wraparound in this format. It is with this reality in mind that we created our new textbooks. Our new textbooks were designed with two goals: to help agencies get new staff to fidelity quickly, understanding the constraints they were likely to be operating under, and to disseminate a variety of new information we have learned about the wraparound process through our implementation research. The textbooks work well for large and small groups, but they are designed for certified coaches to take 1-3 staff through. You can read more about them here.

As I’ve said, we are very proud of our new Foundations training. But we don’t want to mislead you into thinking that training alone can ever be enough. The goal of training is to impact what staff actually do with families. We know that most trainings average between 5 and 10% (putting the learning to work). Even the best trainings like ours only result in a 35% transfer. The difference between a well trained staff with high fidelity to the model and a poorly trained, unhappy, unsuccessful staff is quality coaching. Coaching can take that 35% to 90%. You can read more about the difference certified coaches make here.

We primarily train the Foundations curriculum on site across the country – we are always interested in discussing new contracts. But we only come in once we have an exit plan. The idea is for agencies and communities to be able to sustain wraparound for themselves, not to create a dependency on outside help. The same is true when we teach open enrollment workshops. If this sounds like the direction you want to head, feel free to start a conversation with us.

One Huge Mistake that Wraparound Agencies Make

We don’t like to talk about mistakes in wraparound – we prefer to deal in strengths and needs. But there are a few things that agencies do that make me wince every time. I cannot tell you how many times I have taught a Foundations of Wraparound class (Wrap 101), and had a student say something like “I’ve been working with families for X months already, and this is my first real training.”

Ouch. That is X months of bad habits, frustrating problems that shouldn’t have been problems, and, most importantly, significantly sub-fidelity wraparound for families. No wonder families and staff alike get frustrated and quit.

At many agencies, most staff don’t get hired in convenient class sized groups. That means that if you are going to train them in the class format, you have to wait until some number of new staff are hired (or until someone else runs a workshop). When you do this, you create several outcomes:

  1. New staff feel lost and confused, and turn to whomever is willing to teach them to figure out what to do. This usually results in learning other people’s shortcuts, bad habits, and perceptions of wraparound, because these are the easiest things to pick up informally
  2. Staff are out working with families with little to no training (most places cannot afford to keep their new staff out of the field until a class gets together). This hurts families and outcomes, and it also makes new staff feel discouraged about themselves and the wraparound process.
  3. Staff form bad habits, feel undervalued, have little success, and ultimately quit. Then you get to start all over again with new staff.

I understand why this happens – as a training coordinator for a large children’s mental health organization, I sat in meeting after meeting debating this very problem. If we wait until we have enough staff to run a training to let them start work, we could be understaffed for a long time. Plus, the good candidates are rarely content to hang around and wait. On the other hand, if we send staff out without training, they don’t do the evidence based things we need them to do. It taints the fidelity of the whole system.

One unhappy compromise is to sit the new staff down in a room with a pile of videos and binders, and hope they can absorb everything. If you know anything about how we learn, you know the prognosis isn’t good. Another is to have a coach or trainer spend days with each new staff walking them through the material. This approach is expensive in time, and without specially designed materials, it is unlikely to be any more effective.

So what do you do? When you are getting started (either with wraparound in general or with high fidelity wraparound from “wraparound style”), you can and should have a big class to get everyone on the same page (we help agencies do this all the time).  But when you have the ongoing trickle of new staff starting in ones and twos, you need a curriculum designed to teach High Fidelity Wraparound in this format. It is with this reality in mind that we created our new textbooks.

Our new textbooks were designed with two goals: to help agencies get new staff to fidelity quickly, understanding the constraints they were likely to be operating under, and to disseminate a variety of new information we have learned about the wraparound process through our implementation research. The textbooks work well for large and small groups, but they are designed for certified coaches to take 1-3 staff through. The staff work through the books independently, stopping to debrief the chapters and exercises with the coach. Here is a sample schedule for completing initial training and Tier One certification for a staff member in 30 days:

sample schedule

The books contain everything you need to certify new staff. This includes text, research, many exercises with reflective components and debriefing questions built in, extensive shadowing and behavioral rehearsal exercises, and samples of all the major wraparound documents. We even included links to video clips of key wraparound activities being completed.

These textbooks are part of our efforts to make self-sustainable high fidelity wraparound possible for a wider range of agencies. Now, all a wraparound agency needs to bring new staff up to fidelity is one or more certified coaches, and textbooks. No costly consultants. No ongoing outside coaching. No endless rounds of sending staff to someone else’s Wrap 101 trainings.

Just agencies becoming self-sustainable, so all their resources can go towards providing better and better wraparound for families.

Welcome to the High Fidelity Wraparound Learning Community

This week we are officially launching our High Fidelity Wraparound Learning Community. To get started, we are making a few changes. The new format has two parts:

We are going to keep publishing new blog entries every other week. It is really important that you ask any questions you may have, make any comments, answer other people’s questions, and post any resources you know are available.

Why? Because starting in January, we are going to be running a different kind of blog entry on the alternate weeks. This entry will revisit an old topic that has questions and comments on it. We will expand, present the resources and suggestions made (with credit to their posters), and help further the discussion. In this way, we can all learn more about the subject together.

Think of these as group-brainstorming posts. Just like the team adds power to the wraparound process, so too can we all add value to the larger wraparound community. This will only work if you leave comments in the first place. Here is an example of how this could look:

We write a post about characteristics of successful Support Partners. We receive a question about good places to recruit Support Partners. Several members of our learning community make suggestions. We take that question, present the suggestions given (with credit) along with a few ideas of our own, and as a group we start answering that question. Then more people can chime in on the comments: agree, disagree, and make more suggestions. In this way, we all benefit from each other’s questions and experiences.

new blog process

To start with, here are three things you can do to help make this community a robust reality:

  1. Share your thoughts, questions, and experiences. Comments are what makes this work!
  2. Expand our community. Know anyone who is interested in wraparound? Let them know we are doing this, and that we want their input. All levels of experience are welcome.
  3. Hook up with us and each other on social media. You’d be amazed what good information is already being shared on places like Facebook and Twitter every day.

On Thursday, January 15, we are going to post the first group brainstorming blog. Here is the question we are addressing:

“How often should a county present a brief overview of wraparound to service providers so new hires will be aware and educated about what wraparound is and provides to their agency? In short…how to keep collaborators collaborating?”

– Kathy McFarland, Colorado

If you have any ideas, comments, resources, or further questions, please leave them in the comments. I am so excited to see what we can come up with together.

Working Together Makes Wraparound Better for Everyone

I am really putting myself out there this week. Friends, colleagues, readers – please help me. Today I am proposing a simple formula that I think we can all agree to:

working together

I was lucky enough to be part of a wraparound task force meeting recently. Over the course of the meeting, I heard a lot of successes, new ideas, and brag worthy innovations from some smart, passionate people. I also heard about their struggles, the challenges they were facing in doing their work, and in being able to keep doing their work.

Several of these challenges really struck me. Not because they exist – challenges are a sign of a program striving to be better. They struck me because I had heard them before. While working with agencies and systems across the country, we are asked to advise on a lot of opportunities and challenges. Some of them are unique. Many of them are common.

Funding, loss of engagement during implementation, staff turnover, and system partner challenges – so many brilliant people are spending so much time trying to reinvent the wheel. How much easier would it be to share our knowledge with each other?

We’ve tried to take a step towards that by writing this blog. Every week, we put out a short article about some facet of wraparound training or implementation that we know people struggle with. It’s free and available to anyone – and a lot of people are reading it.

We think it’s time to take this a step further.

We want this blog to be a community resource, and we need your help. If you are reading something and you have a related idea – no matter how big or small – that works for you, share it. If you have a question or a concern – share it. If you read someone else’s question and you have an answer – share it!

Let’s make this learning community a reality. We can’t do it alone. Will you help us?

The Future of Foster Care: Should Siblings Stay Together?

One of the earliest memories I have is of sneaking cookies off the coffee table with my little sister. We thought were stealthy little toddlers. In retrospect, I am sure my mother was laughing at us trying to sneak past with exaggerated tiptoeing and shushing. My sister was my partner in crime then, and continues to be one of my very best friends. I am lucky to have a great sister, but I am certainly not alone. For many of us, our siblings are some of our most stable, deepest, most important relationships in our lives. These relationships can be even more important for kids who are separated from their parents.

When a family is broken up, how much is it worth to keep those brothers and sisters together? For the 67% of kids in foster care who have siblings in foster care, the question is more than academic. It can have a huge impact on their quality of life and development. Could keeping sibling groups together increase successful transitions? Could it decrease the services and intensity of services needed? In the long run, might it save money?


Interested in the wider ramifications of sibling groups being kept together during foster care, our president, Dr. Jim Rast, and Jessica Rast, MPH, studied kids receiving services from Neighbor to Family (NTF). NTF is a foster care program that focuses on strategies to keep siblings together when placed in foster care.  NTF prepares sibling groups for permanency and the future through the use of professional caregivers; extensive training and support for caregivers; a team-based approach which includes family, kin, and caregivers as equal partners; and intentional and aggressive outreach to biological parents and extended family.

Jim and Jessica used a propensity analysis to compare outcomes between a 400+ sample of children receiving NTF services and a matched group of children receiving traditional foster care. They examined the length of time in care, the level of care while in placement, the number of moves, the type and stability of permanent placement and the cost of care.  Their results, along with the implications for foster care and future research, were published in the April 2014 issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services (Volume 95, Number 2, Pages 83-91). Here is the link if you are interested. The Alliance for Children and Families also has a PDF posted here.


Happy Reading,

Brittany Rastsmith

DIY High Fidelity Wraparound Training

We get emails all the time asking what an agency needs to be able to run their own in house training. Having an outside consultant come in and help get things started is the quickest and easiest way to jump start an agency towards fidelity, but most agencies don’t have the time, money, or desire to keep bringing in outside trainers over and over again. It’s expensive, and it’s not responsive to the unique and changing circumstances of the agency. Agencies want to be able to run their own top quality, evidence-based training programs.

These emailers have the right idea. They should be thinking about how to create a self-sustainable model for their wraparound programs. Staff turnover is a fact of life – you don’t want to have to call for help every time you hire someone new. So, what do you need to run your own unique training program? The short answer is: certified coaches and a solid introductory curriculum. Once you have that down, check out this post about how to take your wraparound program to the next level.

To start and sustain a good wraparound program, you need good coaches. Good coaches take new staff members and turn them into wraparound professionals. They take average wraparound facilitators or family support partners and turn them in to exceptional ones. The difference between a well trained staff with high fidelity to the model and a unhappy, unsuccessful staff is quality coaching. The best training only has a 30% transfer rate. Coaching can take that to 90%.

Vroon VDB has a long history of training excellent coaches. Our strategies a for coaching are developed out of the latest adult learning research, and our 15 year history training wraparound professionals. We have developed strategies for maximizing training transfer, decreasing turnover, and turning agencies into learning communities. There are a few different ways for you to certify coaches, but the most efficient and enjoyable has to be one of our intensive coach workshops in beautiful Red Rocks, Colorado.

red rocks

Another way is with our coaching manual in conjunction with independent study under us or a Wraparound Process Mentor. The new training and manual have more than twice as much information as our last edition, and are completely restructured to reflect the latest in wraparound and adult learning theory. The curriculum has five primary sections:

  1. Defines the process of initial training for new wraparound facilitators and family support partners.  Through the new Foundations of Wraparound curriculum coaches can now do better individualized training than large class trainings which supports ongoing needs.
  2. Examines the process of partnering with wraparound staff to create a strengths-based culture of learning and ongoing individualized professional development plans.
  3. Covers specific coaching strategies including shadowing, behavioral rehearsal, live coaching, individual coaching, group coaching and peer to peer coaching.
  4. Teaches the student coach the skills for doing certification assessments for new facilitators and family support partners.  Participants who successfully complete the 4-day course will be able to enroll in a credentialing process to then certify their own wraparound staff. This process involves support from VVDB staff and can be completed in the coach’s home community.
  5. Teaches the student coach how to build and support a learning culture. A strong learning community is the basis for an ongoing wraparound program that improves over time. Learning organizations have lower turnover, better outcomes, and are nicer places to work.

Once you have good coaches in place, the other thing you need is a strong introductory curriculum. The curriculum needs to be multi-modal and built on the principles of proximal development. It should be flexible enough to work with large training classes and individual hires. Students should have ample opportunity to engage in critical thinking, reflection, and hands on practice. Our Foundations of Wraparound textbook is designed to be used in conjunction with high quality coaching to help new staff reach fidelity quickly and with increased self-efficacy.


Coaching High Fidelity Wraparound Training

August 11-14, 2014                Red Rocks, Colorado (near Denver)                     Cost: $750

Over the last 15 years, VVDB has been training and working with coaches across North America, certifying over 250 coaches in our system.  During that time, VVDB has learned new strategies for training and new ways for maximizing training transfer.  Based on this, VVDB has developed a new coaching manual (2014) that has more than twice as much information as the 2013 version. It presents many new strategies for coaches to use to produce high fidelity wraparound and self-efficient satisfied staff who stay in their jobs much longer.  The difference between a well trained staff with high fidelity to the model and a poorly trained, unhappy, unsuccessful staff is quality coaching. The best training only has a 30% transfer rate. Coaching can take that to 90%. This workshop teaches the tools you need to be the kind of coach who makes a difference in your agency.

To find out more about what it means to coach high fidelity wraparound, click here.

For more information about this workshop and registrations, click here.

The Foundations of High Fidelity Wraparound Practice                                     Price: $50

This brand new 250+ page coaching and training book is designed as a textbook for entry level wraparound staff. It includes detailed descriptions of how to deliver a high fidelity wraparound process as defined by Vroon VDB Action Steps and Theory of Change. It presents many new strategies for staff to use to produce high fidelity wraparound and success with families.  The new book also includes visual representations of all the main learning objectives and debriefing questions for coaches or small group discussion to support the deep learning cycle. This textbook is written to be used for self-study, in small groups, or with large classes. It is designed to be supplemented with high quality videotaped wraparound activities. Agencies can use their own, or they can purchase our Mariam’s Family DVD set.
Available soon.  Download our foundations textbook pre-order form.

Looking for more ideas on how to increase outcomes for your families, reduce staff turnover, and create a more fulfilling work environment, while saving money over the long term? Look here.


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