Wraparound is complex, multifaceted intervention strategy designed to keep delinquent youth at home and out of institutions whenever possible. As the name suggests, this strategy involves “wrapping” a comprehensive array of individualized services and support networks “around” young people, rather than forcing them to enroll in pre-determined, inflexible treatment programs (Portland State University Research and Training Center, 2003).
Although one of the central features of the wraparound approach is individual case management, wraparound interventions should not be confused with traditional case management programs. Conventional case management programs merely provide youth with an individual case manager (or probation officer) who guides them through the existing social services or juvenile justice system (Burchard et al., 2002). Such programs—when well run and staffed by committed individuals—can have a significant impact on the behavior of at-risk youth. For example, Baltimore’s Choice Program and San Francisco’s Detention Diversion Advocacy Program have both produced promising results by providing at-risk youth and juvenile offenders with intensive supervision and individualized treatment plans. Nevertheless, these case management programs do not operate in the same highly structured, integrated services environment that characterizes true wraparound initiatives.
Numerous public agencies and research organizations, including the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office, the National Wraparound Initiative, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), have offered their own definitions of what constitutes a fully realized wraparound program. While these definitions vary slightly, there is a general consensus that true wraparound programs feature several basic elements, including:
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