A Wraparound Q&A

by RITA STEVENSON
A few commonly asked questions about wraparound service delivery.

Q: Should all hospital and restrictive placements be eliminated for students with disabilities?

Residential placements and hospitalizations can be avoided when effective community options such as wraparound exist. Residential treatment has been dramatically curtailed in some communities where I’ve worked. These facilities have diversified their services and use their staff in other settings. Transitional services, behavior management consultation, family therapy, teacher consultation and parent training are examples of the redeployment of staff and services being offered by residential facilities in an effort to maintain students in their home schools.

Hospitalization must remain an option for brief stabilization, but hospital stays lasting for more than two weeks are rare. Recently, we have seen an increase in stabilization models in day treatment alternatives. Due to a decrease in the availability of residential placements, educators must creatively apply community resources to keep these students in their schools rather than in expensive out-of-town private schools.

Q: Does the wraparound approach suggest that youths committing crimes never be put in detention?

Youths involved in wraparound should be exposed to natural consequences when they commit crimes. Those involved in wraparound need to work closely with the juvenile justice system to ensure that this happens. However, with wraparound, the child and the family team are in partnership with the judge in designing appropriate alternatives to detention when possible.

Q: How does one obtain sufficient staff to do all the jobs that come with a wraparound?

Most communities that do wraparound have not experienced a problem recruiting staff. Much of the recruitment is done through the private sector, through word of mouth.

Creative recruitment strategies include accessing substitute teacher lists, using university students and networking with church groups. In an effort to avoid trouble with labor laws, it is recommended the local Labor Department be brought in early to help devise ways of legally hiring the staff needed for wraparound.

Q: Do wraparound services increase the parents’ tendency to overly depend on the system and even take advantage of it?

The reality is the vast majority of parents do not want to be in need of services and want to be independent. The experience of communities doing extensive wraparound services indicates parents and students do not take advantage of the process.