WrapAround is one of the core programs offered by Shalem. WrapAround is a beautiful way of “wrapping” meaningful community supports around people who are dealing with complex, multiple, and mutually overlapping and reinforcing challenges, such as mental illness combined with poverty, special needs, insecure housing, family challenges, addiction, and so forth.
With core values like “voice and choice,” “nothing about us without us,” “strength-based” (not deficit-based), “team-based,” “no shame no blame,” and “never give up,” WrapAround helps people to articulate their hopes and dreams, puts them in charge of their own life-planning process and gives them hope. WrapAround is “cradle to grave,” working across the age spectrum, from children to seniors.
Since 2008, Shalem’s WrapAround program has pioneered the use of community volunteers as WrapAround facilitators. Having shown some success, with the support of World Vision Canada, Shalem then gave birth to WrapAround Chatham-Kent, a thriving program of Neighbourlink (a collaborative of 29 area churches).
Our state-of-the-art evaluation regime has demonstrated excellent outcomes—and WrapAround has a growing evidence base which indicates that its outcomes are superior to other interventions (for more, click here). Further, Shalem has been a leader in WrapAround in Ontario, consistently playing a leadership role at WrapAround Ontario, an umbrella effort supported by about 15 WrapAround initiatives in Ontario.
But the story does not end there. Shalem has also been deeply instrumental in the creation and subsequent success of Wrap Canada, a non-profit organization created in 2008. Mark Vander Vennen, Shalem’s Executive Director, served for six years as Wrap Canada’s Founding Board Chair (and continues now as a Board member), and a Shalem staff member, Andrew Debicki, was seconded to Wrap Canada from Shalem as Wrap Canada’s National Development Director, until his untimely death in 2016.
Wrap Canada’s Vision and Mission are:
Vision: All children, youth, adults and their families will be part of a vibrant supportive community such that their varied challenges and needs will be heard, addressed and met.
Mission: Wrap Canada will support communities to successfully implement the WrapAround Process with all children, youth and adults and their families dealing with varied and complex problems so that they have better lives and can be active participants in their community.
Wrap Canada receives no funding. Nevertheless, its success has been phenomenal. Four years ago the federal ministry Public Safety Canada issued a call for proposals for youth-gang prevention projects. They stated that they would especially entertain proposals based on Wrap Canada’s evolving definition of a made-in-Canada WrapAround model.
The upshot is that Wrap Canada has developed partnerships with five youth-gang prevention projects across the country. They are the Lasalle Boys and Girls Club (see also their video), and Maison des jeunes Par la Grand’Porte(both in Montreal); REACH Edmonton’s WrapED program; West Region Child and Family Services’ Oshkiiwaadizag Mino Niigaaniiwad (Youth Leading in a Good Way) (a First Nation/Metis/Inuit program) in Manitoba; and a collaborative of agencies in Calgary called High Fidelity WrapAround. Public Safety Canada paid for translation into French of Wrap Canada’s training materials, which Wrap Canada’s French-language trainer delivered to Maison des jeunes Par la Grand’Portein Montreal.
Healthy Child Manitoba is a Cabinet-led initiative across all child-serving departments in the Manitoba government. It has embraced Wrap Canada’s model and is seeking to embed WrapAround across children’s services, including in education, across Manitoba. Healthy Child Manitoba has a full-time “Provincial Coordinator of High Fidelity WrapAround”—the first such position in Canada, created in partnership with Wrap Canada.
Other partners include the Relentless Connector initiative, a consortium of early childhood intervention agencies in Edmonton, Alberta; Mosaic, a large newcomer settlement agency in Vancouver; a new youth-gang program at the Brampton Multicultural Community Centre in Brampton, Ontario; and The Ideal Way, a poverty-reduction initiative in Gatineau, Quebec.
Wrap Canada is also facilitating WrapAround research and evaluation developments in Canada, supported by a collaboration with the U.S.-based National Wraparound Initiative, along with the further development of First Nation/Metis/Inuit (FNMI) WrapAround (led by our FNMI partners) and faith-based WrapAround (led by Shalem).
Wrap Canada thrives because of remarkable, dedicated input and time from a wide number of strong partners, such as Skylark (formerly called Oolagen), WrapAround Northumberland, Catulpa WrapAround, and many, many others. Shalem is proud to serve as one of those key partners and leaders. Through Wrap Canada, Shalem is truly having a national impact.
Thank you for your support of Shalem. It is making this impact possible.
Mark Vander Vennen, MA, M.Ed, R.S.W., is the Executive Director of the Shalem Mental Health Network