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:
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.