Category: Learning Community Generated Posts

Teaching the Principles

We know that in order to really do high fidelity wraparound, each staff member needs to be very comfortable with the principles (along with the Theory of Change). Just knowing the principles isn’t enough – they have to understand them so well that they can make room for them to happen without having to focus on them.

So how do we help our staff gain this level of understanding? There are a lot of options, and we already presented one simple grouping idea here. And then we go this question:

 What else can I do to help myself and my staff remember the principles? Do you have any ideas for in the office, during meetings, or when in a family’s home? We are just getting started, and we are struggling with really making the principles central to everything we do. – Stacy

So we wanted to share another idea, one that is good for new and experienced staff alike.  This idea works best in a group coaching structure:

  • Chose one principle to focus on at a time
  • Do a group coaching session, starting with a presentation where you:
    • Introduce the principle and talk about what it means
    • Discuss why it is important to the wraparound process
    • Give examples of how it can look in practice.
  • After this mini-lesson, have the group participate in some kind of activity designed to have them use or spot the principle (behavioral rehearsals, watching taped wraparound activities, or perhaps a text-based activity).
  • In large or small groups, discuss critical thinking questions and reflect on the principle
  • End by assigning each staff person to use that principle with families and write up their experience in a paragraph or two
    • This can be done alone, or in peer groups
  • Follow up with their experiences during supervision, or during the next group coaching session. Either way, make sure you create time to debrief the exercise.

What other things do you do to help your staff learn the principles? Have any good activities you want to share?

The Importance of Dreaming

Running programs in the real world requires us to make a number of sacrifices. We don’t have as many staff as we would like, or our support partners have to be part time, or we have to make our process support the requirements of our funding source. While not ideal, the reality is that every program we have ever worked with had some kind of constraint that kept them from doing pure high fidelity wraparound to the very best of their ability.

Working with your system to create the best wraparound process possible is not a weakness – it is a virtue. Bringing wraparound to those who would otherwise not get it is a worthwhile endeavor. The mistake happens when people let their current realities make them think small. Perhaps right now you can only have one support partner for every three facilitators. Work with what you have, but keep trying for more. Remember the ideal.

There is a need here for a word here about the importance of dreaming. The visioning process needs to value the importance of dreaming about what is within the realm of the creative possible. Bureaucracy teaches limited thinking. Scarcity thinking is not helpful to families. Envision what your program would look like if all the barriers were gone. Be specific, talk to your coaches, your staff, your whole team about it. Make it a regular part of your learning organization discussions. You cannot fight for something better if you don’t know what you are fighting for.

What would make your program stronger next year? In five years? Ten? Some changes might take a long time. Others might be much more possible that you think.

I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with someone about some change that would make their program stronger (like an updated EMR to match the process, or adding more support partners, or reducing caseloads, or 100 other things) that they told me was impossible right now. Turns out, it wasn’t really being advocated for. Once the people who could make those decisions had the data in front of them, the changes came very quickly.

Dream big, then break it into little steps. As we do with our wraparound families, we need to start doing with our programs. What is your dream for your program?

Group Brainstorming: Keeping System Partners in the Loop

We know that when our system partners know the benefits of and what to expect from the high fidelity wraparound process, they are more willing to participate in a meaningful way. The difference between working with a probation officer or case worker who believes in wraparound and one who thinks it is a waste of their time is like night and day. It follows, then, that it is worth our time to orient our system partners to wraparound.

However, they, like us, have staff turnover. Orienting a partner agency to wraparound once is a good start, but it is only a start. That is where this week’s question comes in:

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

This is a complicated question, and there isn’t a formulaic answer. One approach is to stay aware of the turnover rate at your partner agencies:

When an agency has a number of people turnover it’s time to do a more formal orientation. If it’s the same people we strive to present progress every month to our networking meeting. It keeps us connected and it keeps collaborating agencies up on what’s working and what isn’t working. It can lead to really effective brainstorming.

-Sharon Weber, Wyoming

We really like the idea of having ongoing networking meetings with updates and progress notes (celebrating successes!) supported by more formal orientations on an as needed basis.

Another option could be to keep an open registration for orientation (probably online where it is easy for agencies to add their new hires) and to hold a class whenever the list gets to a certain length. Clearly direct contact has more impact than an online availability but a combination approach works well.

Regardless of your approach, it is important to make sure that all of your wraparound staff are comfortable and proficient at explaining wraparound to system partners (as well as other professional and natural supports potential team members) when they show up on their teams for the first time. The key is to listen closely to their hopes, needs, and concerns for the family and process, and then explain wraparound in terms of how it can specifically address those things.

For example, a case worker says she has tried everything to reach a family, and she just doesn’t think they care enough for any process to work. The Wraparound Facilitator could respond by explaining wraparound in terms of its unparalleled engagement opportunities. Wraparound could get the family on board with the case worker’s needs for them, too.

Thank you so much, Sharon and Kathy, for participating in our first group brainstorming blog. Your comments added so much. This exercise would be even more powerful with more comments. I hope to get several answers to next week’s question:

Our Division is working on proposals to promote continued use of the wraparound process. Our state is now a Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (for physical and behavioral health); with changes in our state Medicaid plan, Targeted Case Management will be an authorized services, based on Medical Necessity, and approved by the MCOs. Many behavioral health providers and Parent & Youth Leaders and state staff are concerned that the wraparound process/ model will not be maintained.

-Martha Campbell, Kentucky

I know that several other states have made this switch. I hope any of you with experience about this will chime in about 1) how you made it work for you 2) any challenges to watch out for 3) benefits to the model you have noticed. You can leave your responses as comments to this article, or email them to me directly.

Also, please leave more questions! We cannot do this without questions and responses. This is a learning community for all of us, and we all have to contribute to make it work.

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.

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