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SAMHSA’s Award-Winning Newsletter
July/August 2009, Volume 17, Number 4 

Photo of staff members at Wraparound Oregon

Left to right: Rob Abrams, Wraparound Oregon Project Director; Martha McCormack, Clinical Supervisor; Elaine Wallick, Child Welfare Liaison; Ally Linfoot, Family Coordinator; Sandy Bumpus, Training Coordinator

Wraparound Oregon: Treating Very Young Children

Can very young children have mental health issues? “Absolutely,” says Rob Abrams, M.S.W., Project Director of Wraparound Oregon: Early Childhood at the Multnomah Education Service District in Portland, OR. But many people still don’t believe that’s true.

“When people hear that we have 2-year-olds with severe depression in our program, they ask, ‘How can that be?’ ” said Mr. Abrams. “We hear that not only from the public, but also from professionals.”

Photo of Family Team Facilitator leading a discussion

Darcy Wilde, Family Team Facilitator, leads a group discussion.

Wraparound Oregon is one of nine current grantees in SAMHSA’s Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services Program for Children and Their Families that focus on building systems of care for children age 8 and under. (See Coordinating Care for Children with Serious Mental Health Challenges.)

The Agency expanded the program to include this population in 2005 in response to reports from the field. “SAMHSA recognized that you can get much stronger and long-lasting results if you intervene early in a child’s development,” said Mr. Abrams.

With this age group, he explained, the emphasis is less on making formal diagnoses and more on identifying risk and protective factors. “When children are really young—birth to age 3, for instance—we look at the interaction between the child and primary caregiver,” he said. “If there isn’t bonding going on, that’s what we begin to work on. We also look at the whole family, not just the child.”

Quote from Rob Abrams about effective services for children

How do you treat very young children? “We’re not going to take a 3-year-old to a therapist’s office for 50 minutes of talk therapy,” Mr. Abrams smiled.

Instead, the process begins with a family being assigned a facilitator and a “parent partner,” parents and grandparents who can make a strong connection to new participants because they have gone through the process themselves.

Next, the family works with an interdisciplinary team to uncover its strengths and needs. “Families come back and say, ‘We never knew we had these strengths,’ ” said Mr. Abrams. “That in and of itself is healing.”

The child, family, and team all work together to craft a mission statement and a plan for achieving their goals. That plan might include vocational training for parents, drug-free housing, or extra support for teachers—whatever the child and family need.

Now in the fourth year of its 6-year grant, Wraparound Oregon: Early Childhood has data showing the program’s effectiveness.

  • 78 percent of families said they got the help they wanted for their families and reported their families were doing better thanks to the program.
  • 70 percent of children are doing better in childcare settings or school.
  • 69 percent of children now get along better with their families.

In fact, the program has been such a success that the state recently passed legislation to bring this “wraparound” approach to the state level.

Mr. Abrams doesn’t have to look at the numbers to see success—he hears it from the families themselves. “One mom said, ‘Wraparound Oregon allowed me to see that I had the power within myself to make the changes needed,’ ” Mr. Abrams remembered. “That’s family-driven care, and it works,” he added.

SAMHSA’s Web site offers more information on Systems of Care.

  Statistics on Substance Abuse,  
  Mental Health  
State by State Estimates

State by State Estimates

Every state faces a different set of challenges with substance abuse and mental health issues, including binge drinking and depression.

Treatment Discharges: Latest Data

Treatment Discharges: Latest Data

SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) recently updated its data on discharges from treatment facilities.

  Treatment Updates  
TIP 50: Literature Review

TIP 50: Literature Review

Part 3 of TIP 50, Addressing Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Substance Abuse Treatment, is available.

Alcohol Abuse Treatment: Need, Barriers

Many people who need treatment for an alcohol problem are not seeking help. Why?

National Directory Updated and Available

National Directory Updated and Available

An updated guide to finding local substance abuse treatment programs is available.

  Real Warrior Campaign  
Reaching Out Makes a Real Difference

Reaching Out Makes a Real Difference

The Real Warriors Campaign is fighting the stigma of asking for help.

  Prevention Update  
Retail Tobacco Sales to Youth

Retail Tobacco Sales to Youth

Retail sales of tobacco products to young people continue to drop.

Parent Involvement Makes a Difference

Parent Involvement Makes a Difference

Parents play an important role in preventing substance abuse.

Suicide Prevention Update

Suicide Prevention Update

New funding, Web site redesign to improve navigation, and more.

Prevention Awards

Prevention Awards

To advance community-based prevention programs, $190 million to 25 grantees.

Calculating Program Allotments

A new guide provides information on procedures to calculate allocations for some key block and formula grants.

Drug Free Communities: Continuation Awards

More than 500 community coalitions nationwide recently received Drug Free Communities (DFC) continuation awards for their programs.

  Health Reform  
Nine Core Principles

Nine Core Principles

Ensuring current reform efforts include mental health and substance abuse issues.

  Mental Health  
Forecasting the Next 5 Years

Forecasting the Next 5 Years

Changes are coming to create “whole health,” person-centered care.

  Adolescents & Young Adults  
Need Treatment? Many Say No

Need Treatment? Many Say No

Nearly 7 million Americans age 18 to 25 were classified as needing treatment in the past year.

  Recovery Month  
Celebrating 20 Years of Recovery

Celebrating 20 Years of Recovery

Get up–to–the–minute updates on September's events.

  Also in this Issue  
Under the Influence: Fathers and Alcohol Use

Under the Influence: Fathers and Alcohol Use

Does dad's drinking affect his adolescent children?

Methadone Advisory

New information on the dangers of methadone in combination with other drugs.

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