Amanda Weisbrod

Center for Human Development’s Wraparound program gives new life and opportunity to Union County families in crisis through its individualized care services.

CHD runs its Wraparound program based on Portland University’s National Wraparound Initiative, an organization dedicated to providing comprehensive care to “youth, regardless of the complexity of their needs” by making sure children are “connected to caring adults and have access to appropriate services and supports so they can be healthy, experience positive development, and live and thrive in their homes and communities,” according to its mission statement.

This wraparound care can range from mental health counseling for the child to connecting family members to community services like USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or job placement assistance.

According to CHD Clinical Supervisor Candace Walters, the specifics of the provided care depend on each case, but the overarching goal of Wrap is to help families thrive in the Union County community.

“We look for what each individual Wrap client wants and needs,” she said. “Our mission and vision is to develop a unique and cohesive plan for each family.”

Walters said CHD’s Wraparound program currently services eight families but has the resources to help up to 15 at a time. Any community member or relative who knows of a family that could benefit from Wrap is encouraged to refer them to the program. Families in crisis can even refer themselves by visiting or contacting representatives of CHD.

Olivia Westenskow, former Wrap partner and current youth coordinator at CHD, said by meeting families “where they are at” rather than “imposing beliefs” on where they should be, care providers are better able to understand the needs of a family on a personal basis.

“As a Wrap partner, you get really great interactions with families and you can see what their needs are,” she said. “You get to build rapport and even friendships with families, and when you know them on a personal level, you can help them advocate for themselves better.”

Amber Mason, who graduated from CHD’s Wraparound program Thursday after a year of involvement, said when she and her family randomly picked La Grande on a map and moved here in 2016, she was lost.

“We came here from a toxic situation,” Mason said. “We went from eating disorders and me not being able to walk into Walmart alone to me going shopping by myself and my daughter eating healthy. We’ve had a whole new life over the last year.”

Mason said her 14-year-old daughter, Jaden, who has been receiving mental health services since she was 5 years old, has especially blossomed because of CHD’s Wrap program.

“Jaden’s grades are up and this is the best year she has had socially,” Mason said. “I definitely attribute that to the Wrap program.”

According to Mason, Wrap Youth Partner Lewis Whiting has been Jaden’s “go to” since the family enrolled in Wrap a year ago. Whiting said he learned a thing or two from the Mason family while being there for Jaden through difficult times and even occasionally escorting her to the library to work on social skills.

“It’s eye opening to see the families we work with face these challenges and the strength that comes from the family working together,” Whiting said. “It’s fun to see how far they’ve come, and it’s amazing to see (each) family’s resilience.”

Mason said her relationship with Westenskow was paramount in helping her reach the place she is at today, and the former Wrap partner said she was “impressed” with how driven Mason was to “become the best mom she can be.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer