Are You a Turtle?

“For a turtle to walk forward, it has to stick its neck out. Because Wraparound challenges systems to support families in unique and strength-based ways, staff must take chances when doing things differently than has been done in the past. Hence, they stick their necks out for change and work toward a better future for children, youth and their families.” National Wraparound Implementation Center

Our challenge as wraparound providers is to stick our necks out for change! We are all working for a better future for the children, youth and families in Wyoming. Though our roles may differ, the objective is the same. Keep more youth at home, in school and out of trouble.

I have had High Fidelity Wraparound graduates tell me, “You saved our family.” The comments are heartfelt and genuine. But in wraparound, we don’t save their family. We do our duties with respect and fidelity. We show up for families, have hard conversations, reframe thoughts and ideas into action items and create tangible goals. We help them start to build a solid team of “go to” people and supports. We give a lot of suggestions and do a lot of work. But we alone, do not save their families.

They save their family. They do the hard stuff. They listen when they don’t yet understand how things could be different. They show up to their wraparound meetings and start to learn the process. They work to strengthen relationships needed for more natural supports. They are brave enough to question systems and processes that don’t work for them. They try new things, even though they are unsure of the outcome. They trust a stranger, like me, who shows up to help. They believe in me, and I believe in them. They keep on building trust in each other and confidence in their own abilities. They keep doing this work until one day they don’t need me anymore. It’s not as if everything is changed, fixed and all challenges solved. They did grab onto a life preserver when it was thrown. They did all the hard stuff to save themselves. That’s the true work. As wraparound providers, we share in the work load, but it is not all ours to do. Not even close.

Some families that I hear from I have worked with over 10 years ago. I believe this is because we built solid connections which are genuine. I stuck my neck out and let people know how to reach out if they ever need me, even after they transitioned from wraparound. What stands the test of fidelity to the model of wraparound is not how many youths are “saved”, but how many families and individuals we influence to create lasting and positive change in their lives. The relationships we build is what sets the stage for how well the process of wraparound gets incorporated into everyday life. We must be brave and risk our necks at times to build authentic relationships with people. We are all vulnerable. Sticking our necks out for the right reasons, at the right time and in right way, keeps Wyoming’s families moving forward.

Who’s with me? Turtles unite!

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