Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System: Wraparound Service Program in Santa Clara County, California . 1. Introduction and Background

12/01/2001

In recent years, California has reinvigorated its efforts to preserve and reunify families coming to the attention of its child welfare system through legislative initiatives that enable counties to implement a continuum of services and undertake a number of innovative programs. One of these innovative programs is the use of wraparound services to remove severely emotionally disturbed children from residential placements and reunify them with their families. These cases represent some of the most difficult ones to serve and reunify in the child welfare system, where parents' problems with parenting are exacerbated by children's serious mental health needs. Wraparound services refers to an approach whereby an extensive array of services are individualized and "wrapped around" the family unit to support their strengths and meet all their needs with respect to personal and community safety, education, emotional and physical health, family life, recreation and legal issues. As Santa Clara County was the first county in California to pilot wraparound services for severely disturbed children and has the most established program, it was selected for a visit to examine the program in more detail. This site visit report first gives an overview of California's child welfare system and its efforts to reduce the number of children in foster care, and then highlights Santa Clara County's wraparound program. (1)