Program Spotlight: Discovering the Power to Change
Wraparound Program focuses on family strengths and support
Rikki first came to the 3 Rivers Wraparound Program at LCS’ Kennewick, Washington, office in 2008. After a series of setbacks, she was living in a homeless shelter and her children had been placed in foster care. The driving goal in her life was to get her kids back and become a family again.
“I had tried countless other resources and programs with no success,” she recalls. “Before 3 Rivers I felt I had no support… nowhere to turn. Dealing with the State, the school system and other agencies – the bureaucracy – I felt like I had lost my voice... that my opinion didn’t make a difference. I found my voice, thanks to 3 Rivers.”
“This family utilized the Wraparound Program to the fullest,” notes LCS Care Coordinator Megan French. “They developed a Family Vision: ‘To be together, happy, and in our own home’ and worked hard to reach those goals. We brought together a team which included ‘natural supports’, such as family and friends, and ‘formal supports’, including teachers, school counselors, and CPS social workers. Most important, the family formed their own ‘action plan’ building on their strengths and what they felt would work best for them.”
“The staff helped me realize that I had strengths… the power to change our situation,” Rikki stresses. “Staff have been a tremendous support and advocates for us. They’re easy to get along with and can relate to my situation. They’re always available to go to court or to school meetings with us. What helped most was learning parenting skills – how to interact with my kids. The way I handle my kids is much better now.”
Now Rikki and her kids are together as a family again. She now has an apartment and a car. She is serving as chair of the 3 Rivers Advisory Board and is active in helping other parents in the program. “This program helps parents know they’re not alone,” she emphasizes. “It gives the opportunity to meet, talk and learn from other parents who are dealing with similar situations.”
Rather than focusing on families’ challenges and “deficits”, the Wraparound approach identifies and builds on their strengths, supports and resources. Key to the success of the program is bringing together everyone families may have been dealing with in a fragmented fashion - schools, government agencies and community resources - into a collaborative team. The most critical element is an emphasis on “family voice and choice”, honoring the families’ input in building plans to reach their goals.
“We believe that families are more than the sum of the challenges that bring them to our door,” notes Program Director Sharon Gentry. “A key focus of developing wraparound plans is enlisting the strengths that people bring to address the concerns in their lives.”
3 Rivers now serves 40 families in the Tri-Cities area and, in December, is preparing to open a new Family Resource Center to reach out to even more families.
For more information on the 3 Rivers Wraparound Program, contact Sharon Gentry at 509/735-6446.