Assessing the Context of Permanency and Reunification in the Foster Care System: Wraparound Service Program in Santa Clara County, California . 2.1 Wraparound Program Development


Santa Clara County was the first and is now the largest provider of wraparound services in the state. In early 1994, prior to the state enabling legislation, Santa Clara County's Social Services Agency, Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS), and Mental Health Department, Family and Children's Services Division contracted with a private, nonprofit, community agency, Eastfield Ming Quong (EMQ), to provide wraparound services. EMQ's program, UPLIFT (Uniting Partners to Link and Invest in Families of Today), began as a pilot and has since become a permanent service within the local system of care.

Prior to UPLIFT, EMQ was the largest high-level residential treatment center in the county. EMQ became interested in residential treatment alternatives in response to parents' dissatisfaction with the system of care for severely emotionally disturbed children. To address parents' concerns, the agency initiated a nationwide search for promising alternative treatment programs. As a result of its search, EMQ decided to implement a wraparound program based on a model used in the Kaleidoscope (Chicago, Illinois) and Alaska Youth Initiative programs. These two programs had demonstrated success in treating emotionally disturbed children in their homes by providing creative, comprehensive, eclectic, interdisciplinary services that kept children out-of-community treatment facilities.

Lacking funding from the state, the county agreed to finance the project by reallocating county funding from 88 of EMQ's 125 residential slots to wraparound slots. Concomitantly, the private and county agency coalition lobbied the state legislature and administration to enact legislation to shift state foster care dollars to wraparound services.

After EMQ implemented its wraparound program, a residential treatment facility in southern Santa Clara County, Rebekah Children's Services, also sought county funding to provide wraparound services. The county initially funded Rebekah's Compadres program to serve children in foster homes because EMQ was already serving children with biological families. Implementing the program, however, was problematic. Efforts to recruit existing foster families into the Compadres program were largely unsuccessful, primarily because of the level of care that children needed. In addition, many of the children in residential treatment had biological families; hence foster placement was inappropriate for them. Following the enactment of S.B.163, the county expanded Compadres' contract to include the provision of wraparound services to children in their biological parents' homes.