Are you a turtle?
By Tammy Cooley, Senior Director of Operations, Magellan Healthcare in Wyoming
"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 recently had a past High Fidelity Wraparound graduate tell me, “You saved our family.” His comment was heartfelt and genuine. I thought for a moment about my response. I didn’t save their family. I did my duty with respect and fidelity as a family care coordinator. I showed up, had hard conversations, reframed thoughts and ideas into action items and created tangible goals. I helped them start to build a solid team of “go to” people and supports. I gave a lot of suggestions, and did a lot of work. But, I did not save their family.
They saved their family. They did the hard stuff. They listened when they didn’t yet understand how things could be different. They showed up to their wraparound meetings and started to learn the process. They worked to strengthen relationships needed for more natural supports. They were brave enough to question systems and processes that didn’t work for them. They tried new things, even though they were unsure of the outcome. They trusted a stranger who showed up to help. They believed in me, and I believed in them. They kept on building trust in each other and confidence in their own abilities. They kept doing this work until one day they didn’t need me anymore. It wasn’t that everything was changed, fixed and all challenges solved. They didn’t need me because they grabbed 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.
I still hear from families like the one mentioned above regularly. Some I 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 the right way, keeps Wyoming’s families moving forward.
Who's with me? Turtles unite!
High Fidelity Wraparound in Wyoming is made possible by the Wyoming Department of Health, Division of Healthcare Financing.