Being a parent is one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs an individual can hold. When behavioral health challenges are added, it becomes even more difficult. Try, for a moment, to imagine being a foster parent to a child with behavioral health challenges. Where does one even begin to find the help and services they need to best care for their child?

Through our collaboration with the Wyoming Department of Health, Division of Healthcare Financing (Medicaid), Magellan in Wyoming coordinates care, including behavioral health interventions with other youth serving agencies in our system, using the High Fidelity Wraparound (HFWA) model to build a team of support for the successful management of complex conditions and behaviors in home- and community- based settings. The team creates steps to help youth stay in their homes, schools and communities. Through the 10 guiding principles of the program, families and youth have a voice in their care and choice in the kind of care they receive. We help to strengthen community support, understanding, and education of at risk youth ages 4-20 with complex behavioral health needs.

Magellan in Wyoming recently had the opportunity to hear from a former foster parent and HFWA graduate to discuss how the program benefited them through their challenges and supported their growth. “Opening my heart up to love and attachment with these children, parenting them with unconditional love, all the while knowing, they might not stay was difficult,” said the foster parent.

The siblings involved and their foster family cycled through numerous foster care workers in three years, creating more trauma for everyone. There was no stability and no consistency. Dealing with several different mental health diagnoses and many weekly appointments, in addition to the strain of everyday life, took a toll.

When this family discovered HFWA, they were naturally a little skeptical. They had experienced enough “new” things; however, this was the beginning of a completely new outlook on life. From the very start, HFWA taught the foster parent that it was okay to take a breath, to sleep and to ask for support. More importantly, it became evident that people wanted to help and be on the family’s team to help support them.

The family had spent so much time triaging the risk aspects of their children’s lives, that it had drained them of most of their hope. Through the strengths-based principles of the HFWA program, the family was able to gain new insight into ways they could focus on the local supports available to help them.

The program taught them to see the progress. By forming a HFWA team around the foster children and the whole family, they were able to gain some positive, strengths-based perspective along with stability and consistency.

HFWA empowered the family to have a voice and to use it effectively. “I knew all the people on my team before HFWA, but the program taught me how to use my voice. It taught me how to say what was going on and who to say it to,” said the foster parent. It was because of the family’s team, as well as community investment in the program, that today, the family is enjoying a life full of hope and possibility.