Sam grabbed my hand and lead me to their back yard.  "I want to show you what I learned to do today in P.E.!"  As I made it to the back yard, Sam let go of my arm and ran to the center of the yard to do a cartwheel.  At her first attempt, she didn't quite make it off the ground.  "That one wasn't very good.  Let me try again." she said.  Almost instinctually I went back to what my mother and many others said to me growing up, "Practice makes perfect, Sam!" She stopped what she was doing, and with the most serious look in her eyes, she said to me, "Practice doesn't make perfect.  Practice makes you the best you can be."

By the 5th or so attempt, Sam was able to do a cartwheel.  

Going into this job, I thought it was my duty to guide others and help in any way I could.  Little did I know, my families would be teaching me about life.  As a facilitator, I put a heavy burden on myself to make things perfect: say the right things, do the right things, and expect to somehow pull a magic wand out of my pocket and fix everything.  Over the years, I realized this isn't what families wanted.  They just wanted you to be there, to be their listening ear, and to do what you say you're going to do.  In the simplest form, families just want you to care.

In ways I look up to Sam.  Her strength after losing her mother, starting a new chapter on her own, and being able to overcome things I can't even imagine going through.  The years of being a Wraparound Facilitator have taught me to focus on the strengths of others as well as my own, and to realize that many times, people truly are doing the best they know how with what life has dealt them.  You were born to be real. You were born with imperfections, and you were born with the ability to overcome.


Note: Names and identifying factors have been changed to protect the anonymity of our families.



Posted
AuthorAmy Clark
CategoriesSuccess Stories

Katie and Sarah dealt with the unthinkable behind closed doors.  At school, they were thought of as the "difficult students."  Being only a year apart, they relied on each other for support and showed many of the same behaviors: verbal aggression, physical altercations, biting and hitting other youth at school, disrespectful towards others, and low achievement in school.

One teacher in particular saw the potential in them.  Katie and Sarah began confiding in their teacher and disclosed information about their home life that was very concerning and raised suspicion of physical and verbal abuse.  Wanting to help the children, the teacher made a referral to Wraparound.  At the time, Katie was 16 and Sarah was 17, and both girls were living with their mother and father.  At the initial meeting with the Wraparound Facilitator, the parents refused to allow Katie to enroll in services, but the older sister, Sarah was able to make the decision to work with us on her own given she was 17.  Several months later, the Facilitator was able to work with Sarah and build a Plan of Care that included some specific supports in school.  Not wanting to give up on Katie, the Facilitator continued to reach out to the family, and after 2 months, Sarah and Katie's mother decided to attend the Child and Family Team Meeting (CFT).  After seeing the accomplishments Sarah had in such a short time, their mother requested Wraparound to start working with Katie.

As Katie and Sarah progressed through the wraparound process, they disclosed more of their story:
Katie and Sarah's parents were not always around when they were younger leaving them and their other brothers and sisters to fend for themselves.  The girls were sexually abused by a family member multiple times when they were younger.  Katie and Sarah never received counseling nor any other form of therapy to process the events that happened while they were young.  Still the girls refused to see anyone outside of their Facilitator, because they did not trust anyone.  Over time, the Facilitator convinced the girls to work with an Independent Living/Skills Builder and Psychiatric Rehabilitation provider.

As the girls began to talk about their future, both of them spoke on going to college and moving out of their parent's home since they were unsupportive and abusive.  In one particular CFT, the team discussed strategies on how to approach their mother.  When the girls built up the courage, they approached their mother on moving into their Aunt's home.  Katie and Sarah made the difficult decision to move in with their aunt.  This led them to be cut off from their parents, but they knew the decision was best for them.  They were ready to start a new life.

Katie had a very strong senior year of High School.  She began making good grades in all of her classes.  The team, now including the girls' Aunt and cousin, began trying new things to help Katie cope with her emotions.  Katie learned she was worth more than the gashes in her arm.  The relationships around her began to grow, and she began to trust others enough to start new friendships at school.  The nightmares, the cutting, and the self hate were no longer, and she knew she wanted more for herself.

Katie and Sarah moved in with their godmother in order to have a safe place to live while they got all of their paperwork for college together.  Their parents did not want them to go to college and did all they could to keep Katie and Sarah from moving forward in their life.  

Despite the setbacks, Katie and Sarah had a team to support them and get them enrolled into college.

To think back and realize all of this occurred because of one teacher.  Seeing the potential past the disruptive behavior.  All of us are born with two identities.  One includes our family's history and what would be the "societal norm," and the other is stepping up to our greatest potential.  Many people don't step away from the generational hold that society places on us.  It's not due to laziness or not wanting a change, but the difficulty of stepping outside of the boundaries we place around ourselves and walking into the unknown.  No one should have to walk through life by themselves, and it was not until Katie and Sarah opened up to help that they were able to start anew:

Katie is currently a Psychology major and wants to be a counselor in order to help children that don't know how to process what they are feeling.

Sarah is enrolled in a pre-doctorate program.  Since she started college, she has experienced a resurgence of anxiety and anger, but took it upon herself to reach out to a counselor to help her manage these strong emotions.


Note: Names and identifying factors have been changed to protect the anonymity of our families.



Posted
AuthorAmy Clark
CategoriesSuccess Stories

 Janice and her husband struggled to provide their daughter, Sam, with the care she needed. Being autistic and suffering from mild M.R., Sam was unable to express to her family what she needed, and in this frustration, Sam would act out in the only way that made sense to her. Exhausted and no where to turn, Janice and her husband turned to a doctor's recommendation to send Sam to an out-of-state treatment center.

Sam's parents were expecting some understanding and resolution until they received a call stating there was an issue with their insurance, and Sam had to come home earlier than expected. When Wraparound met with Janice, it was clear she loved Sam but was distressed by the thought of her daughter's early return.  Janice and her family was not well-connected in the community and was very open to Wraparound's idea of a team being built to help her daughter and family.  Reaching, what they believed to be, the end of their rope, Janice and her husband said they needed help.  

Wraparound began working with the family. Sam's Special Education Coordinator and School Counselor came to the first Child and Family Team Meeting (CFT). Together with Sam and her family, the team created a plan.  The school's representatives wanted to continue helping and asked if they could bring pizza to the next CFT.  As the meeting was wrapping up, Janice said, "I have been needing this since my daughter was two!  I didn't need another therapist, I needed someone to help coordinate and advocate for us."

Two months into working with Wraparound, the family hit a roadblock.  Janice's husband abandoned the family, leaving Janice all alone and with little support in the home.  The one person she relied on the most was gone.  Janice felt defeated and wanted to give up.  It was at this time, Wraparound and the team worked hard to connect the family with more supports in the community and to create more structure in the home.  We knew Janice could make it through this tough time.  She just needed to believe it for herself.

You are strong.  You are capable.  And even on the days you feel like a failure, you're still the brightest light in her life.

Months later, Janice did a beautiful job in standing up for her daughter.  Through the plan, Sam began participating at the local zoo.  This enabled her to have extra social interaction, provided her with a structured environment, and more importantly, gave her the opportunity to do something she loved doing.

Too many times we've run into families that just need a helping hand.  They need someone to say, "I believe in you.  You are going to make it through this.  Let's tackle this together."  Never forget the power of a kind word and a giving hand. A simple gesture can be the encouragement they need to keep going.


Note: Names and identifying factors have been changed to protect the anonymity of our families.



Posted
AuthorAmy Clark
CategoriesSuccess Stories

Here at Wraparound, we hear families's stories, see a lot of pain, and embrace the idea that life can be messy. Even with the messiest situations, hope is the onset of change.

Alexis was like every other child: rambunctious, beautiful, and ready to face the world one glitter glue stick at a time. When Alexis turned four, life began to change.  Alexis's mom, Tracy, was a young mom who struggled with balancing the responsibilities of raising a child and what life was like before Alexis, and in her struggle, Tracy made a mistake which resulted in imprisonment for the next 12 years. 

What used to be a little girl full of life and wonder, transformed in to emptiness, guilt, and an unknowing of where she belonged.  Alexis lived with various family members from the age of 4-16.  She showed her sadness through anger and quickly became labelled as the "difficult child." At the age of 9, Alexis endured persistent sexual abuse from her uncle.  Seven years later, Alexis built up the courage to stand up for herself and tell someone.  It was at this time the state stepped in and placed Alexis into foster care.  With hopes of Alexis staying with family, the state moved her back with her aunt. It was at this time her aunt allowed Alexis to have contact with the uncle that abused her. Alexis was then relocated to a temporary living facility and then to a children's home.  Years of abuse, abandonment, and an unknowing of what her future holds led to anger.  In hopes of helping, the state sent Alexis to a psychiatric hospital. 

Wraparound Services then received a referral for Alexis.

Wraparound began reaching out to Alexis's family, and after speaking with her aunt, we found out her mother had been released from prison and was wanting custody of her daughter. The state's goal was reunification, but Alexis's mother, Tracy, was running out of time.  Still, Tracy wasn't going to give up on her daughter.

Alexis began to have hope.

Wraparound began working with mother and daughter to develop a Plan of Care, specific to their needs and strengths, and to bring a team together to work towards one goal: bringing Alexis and her mother back together.  The team included Alexis's state worker, therapists, and a support specialists.

 After three months of persistent work, Alexis mother completed all of the state requirements, and Alexis and her mother were successfully reunited. Tracy told her Wraparound facilitator, "No one had faith in me until Wraparound, and this plan wasn't going anywhere until Wraparound."Since then, Alexis has continued to thrive in her mother's home.

I've heard before, "Sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones who need it the most." Every child needs someone to fight for them, and even through the ups and downs, Wraparound has hope for them until they find hope for themselves.


Note: Names and identifying factors have been changed to protect the anonymity of our families.



 

 

Posted
AuthorAmy Clark
CategoriesReunification