“They have our Hearts!”
A Wraparound Family Story
Victor smiles as he, his wife Lucy and their kids Yuriah, age 10, and Aubrey, age 7, begin to describe their experience with Wraparound.
“You don’t turn your back on family,” has always been Lucy’s philosophy. “Being there for these kids is what God put us on this earth for.” Victor and Lucy have been entwined in the care and support of their great grandkids off and on throughout their lives. “The kids have been exposed to so much in their short lives,” said Lucy. “I can’t imagine what they’ve been through.” Victor and Lucy tried to do everything they could to help them, including driving across the country to pick them up. Victor and Lucy had limited funds, an old car and encountered huge winter storms. But they remained steadfast in their goal to keep the children out of foster care. Since then, both kids have been living with them and have a permanent home.
“It’s not been easy,” said Lucy. There were many safety issues with Yuriah and the police were out at the house several times. “We did not know how to help him,” said Victor. “I used to work with troubled kids, but they were older. I had no ideas, nothing worked.” The police, along with other services, were not able to provide solutions, only a hospital setting from time to time. Other services like Mental Health/TBS and CPS attempted to assist, but they weren’t there all the time, and the help was perceived as, “you need to do it our way.” “No one asked us what we thought,” said Lucy.
“We knew the whole family needed help,” said Victor. But how? As a last effort to keep Yuriah from intensive placement, the social worker suggested Wraparound. “We were not sure how they could make a difference, but we knew we wanted to stay together,” remarked Lucy.
Wraparound was different! From the beginning, it felt like friends were in their home. Eventually Lucy would refer to the Wrap team as family. “No one demanded we do things a certain way. We were encouraged to try things and see,” said Lucy. “We used the ideas we had in meetings.” It became easier for them to take risks, to try something new because they had support. Lucy goes on to say, “We made a plan that everyone put together. Yuriah had his own goals, and we had goals for ourselves and the family as a whole.”
“Right from the beginning we knew Ali, the facilitator, had a big loving heart.” Lucy adds, “we felt cared for right away!”
According to Lucy, the entire Wraparound team eventually became “like family.” The Wraparound team was respectful of their home and respected each of them. Feeling comfortable from the start, the family and team met together every other week to review what was happening and talk about what was working. They had goals and made progress. Everyone was included. The kids had a voice at the table, too. “We made the goals together for the next time,” said Lucy. “Everyone was on the same page and we weren’t alone. Our meetings were never a waste of time—we all were committed to the kids.”
Lucy and Victor described the many things they learned, such as the importance of posting goals on the wall as reminders. They learned to walk away, not engage in the struggle and to give each child individual time and lots of reassurance, just to name a few. They were making progress.
Lucy and Victor also described individual meetings with Carolyn, one of the parent advocates. “She would meet me after work for coffee or when I called - she was always listening to my concerns.” Lucy continues, “She encouraged me to take time for myself, listen to the radio, read, etc. just get away and do things for me.” Lucy will always remember that Carolyn told her, “You are a strong person!”
Yuriah also chimes in to the conversation. He tells me that he learned new “coping skills” and comments that Donald, his special youth person, would take him to the park and taught him how to get along with other kids whom he can now call friends. Yuriah continues, “I also stopped yelling and learned how to ask for help.” According to Lucy, “They had a birthday celebration for Yuriah. It felt like a family gathering, even though they got work done.” Yuriah also got help with in-home intensive services. They provided counseling and medication services. Aubrey also liked being with the team and is no longer afraid.
Wraparound team members also did not hesitate to come to the house at night. “They had our backs, so I was not afraid of taking risks or doing things differently,” explained Lucy. “They told me to call anytime and that was such a relief!”
As the interview winds down, the family shared some advice to other Wraparound providers:
- The Wrap team has to be open; they have to be respectful and honest with the family.
- Don’t be a waste of time, have a plan.
- Leave something with the family they can look forward to.
- Always be positive, even when things are bad.
- Remember that each family is unique and get to know the family members as people.
- Remind everyone that they have something valuable to offer.
- Make the family comfortable, but at the same time, show you are comfortable too.
- And finally, Yuriah says, “take the kids for ice cream.”
Lucy invites all other Wraparound teams to come take lessons from “their team” and adds, “you will learn a lot and you won’t be sorry.”
Victor thinks about the time, hopefully in the near future, when the whole Wraparound team can come back in person to see them. “I want to see each of them and hear their voices.” He exclaims, “Wrap owes me a whole bunch of HUGS!”
Lucy concludes with, “Our team will always be a part of our family.” They will always remember the favorite words of their Wraparound family team when they came to the house: “We’re ready. Let’s Wrap!”