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Our Philosophy

History of Wraparound

Dr. Lenore Behar of North Carolina coined the term “Wraparound” in the early 1980’s to describe the application of an array of comprehensive community-based services to individual families.  North Carolina implemented these services as alternatives for institutionalization of youth.  Since then, the use of the term “Wraparound” has become common shorthand for flexibility and comprehensiveness of service delivery, as well as for approaches that are intended to help keep children and youth in the community.  The development of the Wraparound process has been shaped by a unique combination of local, state, and federal innovations; contributions from individual consultants and researchers; influential local, state and national family organizations; new federal law; and key lawsuits.

These and other normalization concepts were employed in designing the Kaleidoscope program in Chicago, led by Karl Dennis, which began implementing private agency-based individualized services in 1975. 

In late 1985, officials of the State of Alaska social services, mental health, and education department sought consultation from Kaleidoscope, and formed the Alaska Youth Initiative.  This effort was successful in returning to Alaska almost ALL youth with complex needs who had been placed in out-of-state institutions.  The Alaska efforts were quickly followed by replication attempts in Washington, Vermont, and more than 30 other states. 

Major efforts based on Wraparound and system of care concepts were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the late 1980’s, and studies of these programs proved to be a rich source of information for further development of the process.  In the 1990’s, Kids Oneida became an agency that benefited from this foundation’s funding so that Wraparound services could be implemented in Oneida County.

In the past 15 years, the Wraparound process has been embraced by many local, state and federal entities as a potential means for ensuring the fundamental rights of families with mental health needs. 

Today, Wraparound continues to grow and evolve to continue meeting the individualized needs of families mental health needs in an attempt to decrease child institutionalizing.

VanDenBerg, J., Bruns, E., & Burchard, J. (2003).  History of the wraparound process.  Focal Point:  A National Bulletin on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health:  Quality and fidelity in Wraparound, 17(2)