- Posted by Famcare
- On March 1, 2017
- 0 Comments
Collaboration is always been a major cornerstone to the Family Care Network and our success in serving the community. For nine years, we worked hard on building our local relationships, but I felt it was important to broaden our connections for the health of our organization.
Consequently, I became involved with a statewide provider membership organization, California Services for Children (CSC), to help keep abreast of what was going on in our industry. Through this networking, I learned that a large organization in the Bay Area, EMQ, was exploring the idea of implementing a program called “Wraparound” in order to move foster children out of their group homes into families. This really resonated with me, especially having a Strategic Plan goal to somehow figure out a way to provide the same type of intensive services to children in their own homes as we did in our foster homes.
I contacted the EMQ’s CEO, Jerry Doyle, to express my interest in learning about what they were doing. He extended an open invitation for us to bring a team to participate in their training. So, I approached our Social Services Department and they agreed to partner with us to learn about “Wraparound Services.” This proved to be one of the most important strategic decisions in the history of children’s Services within San Luis Obispo County.
After several months, and many trips to San Jose, our collaborative had learned some really important information and skills, the challenge was what to do with it. EMQ’s plan was monumental, but there was no funding for it. It would take several years and some really creative legislation to facilitate it. Obviously, we were faced with the same issues.
Motivated to support kids in families, and with strong advocacy from County Social Worker, Marilyn Stein, Social Services agreed to a small contract to pilot the idea. Thus, WISH was born–Wraparound Intensive Services in-Home! WISH, actually a title given the program by Marilyn Stein, was a very small pilot project, but over a seven-year period, served about 100 families with nearly 100% success. This program definitely paved the way for San Luis Obispo County to become one of the first official “Wraparound” providers in California after Senate Bill 163 was passed in 1997.
Wraparound Principles soon became embedded within every program provided by our organization, and eventually into the county Children’s System of Care.
Under the lead of our new Clinical Director, Patricia Taylor, our Therapeutic Foster Care program continued to grow more effective, as we worked with some very challenging children and youth. Patricia was our key staffer who participated in the Wraparound training and also began to incorporate the philosophy and practices into our foster care treatment model. For the first time, foster children/youth and families were really given “voice, choice and preference” in the strength-based identification of needs and the creation of case plans. We also encourage their participation in treatment teams – something totally new.
Family Care Network was also being seen as an expert in “non-directive child play therapy” and projective techniques. For some, this was viewed as way out of bounds because it deviated from traditional “talk therapy.” Nonetheless, it produced positive change and we never backed away from our approach. On the downside of this success, we lost two very significant employees. My longtime friend and clinical Director, Ken Schwartzenberger, left to start his own Play Therapy Clinic, and another Social Worker was offered a doctoral fellowship with one of the leading play therapy experts.
Another service approach presented to me by Marilyn Stein, with further information provided through my involvement with CSC, was Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC). Even though we had been doing treatment foster care for nearly 10 years, California had launched a pilot program with two organizations to provide a family-based alternative to children exiting group homes. I attempted to get in on the pilot, but that was limited by legislation, plus, we didn’t have a group home. Nonetheless, we engaged with one of the providers, Families First, to see exactly what they were doing and to compare notes; with an eye for implementing ITFC when it was opened up statewide.
The Family Intervention Program continued to grow necessitating the acquisition of a larger, off-site counseling center, plus the addition of several intern therapist. In addition to our projective techniques, our program director, Pam Stein, PhD, introduced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and other “restorative justice” interventions which were effective with juvenile justice population.
Since the beginning of Family Care Network, I had dreamed of creating an information management system to track all of our clients and outcomes, and to fully automate our cumbersome report writing and paperwork requirements. Assisted by a Board member who was a retired database programmer, I developed the specifications and requirements for “Care Shepherd” and secured the services of a masters student from Cal Poly to begin programming in Access. Several years in development, we were now ready to fully launch Care Shepherd, our own proprietary Information Management System. A much more sophisticated and efficient version of Care Shepherd remains in use today.
By year’s end we served 335 children, youth and families through six different programs, maintaining a 90+ % success rate.