Communication 6: Demonstration project gives power to the family, security to the child
April 27, 2011
"I don't want Michelle to leave," 9-year-old Quentin complains when asked how he feels about his Department of Human Services caseworker no longer being a part of his life. But he smiles at the suggestion of a pizza party to mark her departure.
No one likes to see someone they care about leave. But for Quentin -- who's suffered neglect, witnessed violence and drug abuse, felt abandoned by parents and been shuffled through multiple foster homes -- the loss of a protective adult could be horribly traumatic.
Six months ago, he likely would have erupted in an hours-long tantrum, behavior consistent with his diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder. But in his more stable life today, Quentin is asked about his feelings and quickly reassured. Soon he's back playing video games and only half-heartedly listening to the six adults focused on him.
Quentin is one of about 100 children in foster care who will receive services this year through the Washington County Wraparound Demonstration Project, one of three demonstration projects set in motion by the Statewide Children's Wraparound Initiative passed by the Legislature in 2009.
The local project is coordinated by the Washington County Mental Health Program and reflects the state's efforts to safely and equitably reduce the number of children in foster care. With its emphasis on a coordinated, team-based approach that breaks down traditional silos, the Wraparound Initiative is also in sync with broader reforms to the state's health care delivery system.
In Quentin's case, all involved agree, the project has helped him and his family become more stable and resulted in the closure of his DHS case. He now lives with his mother, Jessica Grant, her partner and two half siblings in a tidy home in Aloha.
One of the primary goals of this phase of the Statewide Children's Wraparound Initiative is to reduce the amount of time a child is in foster care and is dependent on high cost state services. This can only be accomplished by a multi system approach to meet the needs and capitalize on the strengths of the child and family.
In the Wraparound process the family and child regain control of their lives so they can live as independently as possible.