What Are Wraparound Services in Behavioral Health?

While wraparound isn’t yet deemed a traditional approach in behavioral health, it is a highly effective, evidence-based approach to helping at-risk children and youth. 

Wraparound services have the power to transform the lives of children and youth experiencing serious mental or behavioral health challenges, also referred to as serious emotional disorders. 

2016 analysis estimated nearly half of U.S. states were supporting wraparound across child-serving systems. The report also revealed that almost two-thirds of states provided centralized oversight for the program’s implementation. By 2021, it was estimated that roughly 100,000 youths in the U.S. received wraparound services annually. Wraparound services are primed to continue rising in popularity nationwide.

What Are Wraparound Services? 

Unlike other models of care, the wraparound service model embraces each client’s unique strengths, needs, and natural support systems. Case managers and social workers implementing a wraparound program create customized, intensive, and individualized care plans that are delivered in a structured team-based framework.

Wraparound Services Are Team-Based

Wraparound services offer holistic care systems that prioritize common goals identified by the child or youth, their family, and care team leadership. This is the first principle of wraparound, “Family Voice and Choice.” 

The youth and their family members work together with their assigned wraparound coordinator to comprise a team of trusted friends, providers, and other people in the community who have a positive bond with the child – such as a school counselor, church leader, or sports coach. Together, the youth and team members determine a plan of action, track progress, and proactively tweak the plan along the way.


Wraparound Services Are Methodical

There are four key phases to the wraparound program. Wraparound care coordinators begin the process by introducing the family and youth to the practice model. This is the first step in the process: engagement and team preparation. During this phase, the care coordinator works to stabilize urgent crisis situations, address legal concerns, and begin engaging with wraparound team members. 

Next, the team works together on initial plan development, which includes creating a plan of care, as well as a crisis plan. The wraparound care coordinator and team members address safety concerns and logistics together, and in the process, aim to build rapport and mutual trust across the team.

Once the plan of care is laid out, it’s time for implementation. The plan of care is regularly monitored and revised as needed. During this phase, successes and youth strengths are celebrated, and concerns are proactively addressed.

When the team achieves its goals, the child will gradually transition out of a formalized wraparound program. The child is still assisted by the team, as well as some formal support services, but with a less structured format.


Wraparound Services Are Holistic

From traditional case management and counseling to recreation therapy, tutoring, and transportation, wraparound care coordinators consider and strive to address every barrier that the child and their family may be experiencing.

Wraparound Services Holistically Address Barriers

A Wraparound Program May Include:

  • Case Management
  • Crisis Outreach
  • Transportation Assistance
  • Housing Assistance
  • Residential Treatment
  • Respite Care
  • Counseling
  • Recreation Therapy
  • Medical Care and Health Services
  • Psychiatric Care
  • Group Care or Foster Care
  • Legal Assistance
  • Advocacy
  • Education Assistance and Tutoring
  • Financial Aid
  • Support Groups
  • Family and Team Support

For more information, the National Wraparound Initiative and the National Wraparound Implementation Center offer comprehensive practice resources, professional development, and new research to help case managers and social workers learn more about the framework.

The 7 Principles of Care for High-Fidelity Wraparound Services

As we touched on earlier, the wraparound model is customizable and personalized, but also highly methodological. High-fidelity wraparound is evidence-based and consists of seven core principles that are designed to yield the best outcomes, based on years of academic research.

  1. Family Voice and Choice

    The case manager listens carefully to gain family members’ perspectives and preferences which are prioritized throughout the wraparound care plan. In order to implement wraparound services, case managers must work hand-in-hand with service providers, team members, and members of the child’s natural support system.

  2. Collaboration and Assembly of a Natural, Community-Based Team

    Wraparound is a collaborative effort undertaken by a team composed of people who have a strong interest in the youth’s well-being. These may be trusted friends, relatives, community supports, or service providers. Care team members may consist of teachers, therapists, probation officers, athletic coaches, friends, family members, and physicians. It’s important for the team members to have a high degree of importance and influence on the child’s life.

  3. Culturally Competent

    The wraparound plan respects and builds on important values, beliefs, traditions, culture, and the youth’s identity. Wraparound teams strive to ensure that the approach is grounded in respect and that culturally competent services are provided throughout the care plan.

  4. Individualized

    Every child has varying needs. Some may have neurodevelopmental disabilities, as well as comorbid psychiatric disorders. Developing personalized care plans is paramount in delivering high-fidelity wraparound services.

  5. Strengths-Based

    The wraparound program validates and builds on assets that each client as well as their care team brings to the plan. Focusing on strengths emphasizes positive psychological frameworks – such as hope, positivity, purpose, and identity – and improves interpersonal connections among the individual and their team members. Supporting the individual’s strengths also improves their self-esteem and may help with re-entry or upward mobility in the workforce.

  6. Unconditional

    Wraparound team members should never reject, blame, or give up on the youth that they’ve agreed to support, even when faced with difficult challenges or setbacks. Creating a reliable support system of unconditional support helps the wraparound process achieve its full impact.

  7. Outcome-Based

    From the onset, the team selects key indicators to define successful outcomes and periodically assesses progress. Regularly monitoring outcomes helps the team evaluate the plan of care and individual strategies, creating natural opportunities for refinement. 

High-fidelity wraparound considers a wide spectrum of a client’s complex needs, determines what services need to be provided and in what order, and cares for the youth and their family holistically.


How to Streamline High-Fidelity Wraparound Services with Case Management Software

Cloud-based case management software is a compliant and efficient tool case managers can use to quickly evaluate wraparound programs, generate reports, and enable secure information sharing among wraparound team members.

Here are some of the time-saving features that CaseWorthy Case Management Software offers to wraparound coordinators: 

  • Engage the Youth, Family, and Team Members to Participate: CaseWorthy’s Web Portal and CommLINK features enable case managers to adopt high-fidelity wraparound principles by documenting team members’ individual perspectives on goals, feedback, and progress.
  • Simplified, Secure Team-Based Communication: CaseWorthy’s CommHUB allows care coordinators and team members to send encrypted emails and text messages, enabling another channel for streamlined communication with the family and other authorized team members.
  • Manage Service Delivery, Setting Compliant Frequency and Rules: With CaseWorthy, case managers can keep track of all the services they’re coordinating for a client while setting parameters. For example, if a family is only eligible for food vouchers every six months, the case manager can set a prompt in the system that will set a reminder or avoid overissuance and maintain compliance.
  • Quickly Find Referrals Based On Distance to Client: Without this key time-saving feature, case managers may find it difficult to identify a close and convenient referral provider. CaseWorthy’s built-in referral directory gives case managers the ability to look up referrals and the distance from the client’s home. Over time, clients can provide feedback on services received so providers can narrow down where to send clients.
  • Workflow and Plan of Care Management: Whether there’s a new regulatory policy to follow, or simply a change in the plan, case managers can adjust plans or care and workflows on the fly with CaseWorthy.
  • Create Your Own Training Videos In CaseWorthy: Managers can quickly create training videos to walk new personnel through forms, processes, and best practices – all within CaseWorthy’s platform. On-demand training enables staff to learn at their own pace while reducing the administrative burden of holding regular training sessions.
  • Fast, Simple Reporting: Case managers no longer need to spend hours digging through spreadsheets to pull macro- and case-based data for reports. Learn more about CaseWorthy’s robust reporting capabilities
“We used to spend hours gathering data for satisfaction surveys, progress toward goals reports, dropout rates, CANS assessment scores, and macro-level demographic data for our committee reports. It would have taken us a fraction of the time to extract data with CaseWorthy.”
– Julie at CaseWorthy
Former Wraparound Care Manager

CaseWorthy’s Flexible Platform Helps Wraparound Providers Manage Data, Deliver Programs, and Measure Impact

CaseWorthy is more than just a database. It’s a customizable tool that case managers and nonprofit personnel use to intake new clients, track case progress, and report out with ease. 


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