Keep Children On Track and In School

Posted on May 26, 2021 by Maryellen Hess Cameron

Maryellen Hess Cameron

Maryellen Hess Cameron spent over 25 years as the Executive Director of non-profit agencies in the social....

Teachers face a challenge to keep children focused on their lesson plans. For some, the student's needs exceed their expertise, time for individual attention, or the resources and support to help children with special needs. That’s where you come in. Wraparound services address the underlying factors in the child’s life.

Effective wraparound services don’t happen in a vacuum. They are built with a collaboration of committed representatives from the organizations that serve the child. They could include:

School-linked and school-based services
Non-educational or supportive services
Parental or caregiver involvement
Program funders
Business leaders
Law enforcement agencies
Health care providers
Mental health/substance abuse service providers
Other organizations with needed resources or expertise

Collaborations like these can do more than support students. They can support case managers like you and teachers working with students in the classroom while you are doing the hard work of resolving issues that may be entrenched in a child’s life.

What Makes a Collaboration Work?

You can only create a meaningful collaboration when each partner commits to a common agenda to solve a specific social problem. Real commitment means they put in the time, work, and resources. It can be difficult to set aside individual agendas because every one of your partners has goals that they must meet. But chances are that semantics make goals seem different when, in reality, they overlap.

Moreover, every partner must agree to use the same indicators and definition of progress so assessments, service plans, and outcomes mean the same thing to all. This is your foundation for planning the right interventions and assigning actions to specific entities. It will simplify communications. Each partner can convert those group results and indicators back into the jargon and structure specific to their domain for their records.

People Move On, But Collaborations Should Not

Written agreements build your collaboration among partner agencies, not between individuals. The team’s work should not suffer because of employee turnover or job changes at their agencies. This requires clear roles, responsibilities, and an institutionalized infrastructure, including well-designed mechanisms for performing tasks, solving problems, mediating conflict, and financial resources.

Find Students in Need Through Schools

Teachers and school counselors are in a unique position to identify students who need help even if those children or their families are reluctant to acknowledge their barriers and come forward.

Schools can be the net that catches those children. Teachers can pick up on cues that a child is in need of help. For example, they can watch for children sitting alone in the cafeteria at lunchtime or at recess. Perhaps they observe that a child comes to school exhausted, with poor hygiene or unprepared with basic school items. Changes in behavior may mean there is a significant change in the child’s home.

Teachers can make referrals to school counselors or other social service support personnel they have in-house. They can reach out to you for the wraparound services you and other organizations can provide.

Social service nonprofits and government agencies don’t have to be part of the school system to coordinate services and share information, as long as HIPPA rules are followed by all involved. Instead of working in silos, the schools and agencies can create a system that plans for all of the services an individual needs. Silos can leave gaps in what’s provided. Collaboration can fill those gaps.
Even if schools are equipped to handle some student challenges, it will not serve children well to expect the schools to supplant community-based case managers. Instead, they can complement case managers’ work.

Monitor Collaborative Goals with Casebook Human Services Software

Casebook can help you capture your client’s progress as a member of collaboration and as a separate agency with its own goals and desired outcomes. You can complete your case management records to meet monitoring standards for the sources that fund your services, as well as ensuring you are following governing rules, laws, and codes of ethics.

Casebook provides space for notes to track what happens in your partnership. Attach supplemental documentation like meeting minutes and specifics about tasks that you made a commitment to perform. For example, each child will have a tailored wraparound service plan. Use the notes feature to keep information about how each partner is working with that child, what they are accomplishing and how that ties back to your individual work plan.

Wraparound services are an effective service arrangement for school children with special needs, whether they are connected to factors that are social, behavioral, developmental, or from the effects of poverty. A collaboration provides you with a mechanism to coordinate all the services needed, using all available resources from your agency and your community.