Family Support News

May 18, 2011

The Legacy of Marlene Penn and Wraparound

family on the ground lokking up at camera

Wraparound grew out of a nationwide effort in the 1970s to reform children's mental health services in order to create flexibility, sensitivity and effectively serve those youth and families in need. Wraparound is both an approach and a specific set of services, strategies and supports. Wraparound often occurs in the community, where services are individualized to meet children's and families' needs.

Parents and caregivers are included in every stage of the process and the approach must be culturally and linguistically competent to include but not limited to: sexual orientation, racial, ethnic, geographical, and socioeconomic factors. The inclusion of formal supports such as therapists and care coordinators along with informal and natural supports including faith leaders and grandparents make Wraparound totally unique and individualized. Wraparound services must be delivered on an unconditional basis where the nature of support changes to meet changes in families and their situations. Also, wraparound involves the measurement of child and family outcomes to determine the effectiveness of services to ensure the process is working appropriately for individual youth and families. 

Outcomes are also important at the systems-level to ensure appropriate families are being served. New Jersey implemented Wraparound in 1999 in Burlington County through a federal grant from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration, Child and Family Branch. This was the first local system of care which included the Care Management Organization, Youth Partnership, Mobile Response Stabilization Services and the Family Support Organization. Marlene Penn was the first Executive Director of the Burlington County Family Support Organization. Marlene, a strong family leader, led system reform and System of Care state-wide expansion in New Jersey. She also has been an active member of the National Wraparound Initiative. As Marlene retires in June, we wish her and the Penn family continued success and happiness. 

Learn more about what's happening with Wraparound nationally, the national movement Marlene has helped to develop through her energy, passion and belief in children and families across the country.

Learn more about Wraparound including three interesting stories about engaging family partners and this overview of the Wraparound system.