Often, we think of booming metropolises as innovative leaders for advances in healthcare. Regions like New York, San Francisco and the research triangle of North Carolina come to mind. In 2019 however, Delta County can take pride knowing it too, remains a leader for advances in innovative healthcare practices. Just last month, non-profit Families Plus alongside Delta County Memorial Hospital, Delta Health & Wellness Center, and Stoney Mesa Family Practice were recognized by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, as a Rural Health Champion for their pioneering wraparound method regarding behavioral and mental health of youth and adolescents.
The work accomplished together in Delta County is now the feature article on the Rural Health Information Hub, and can be found at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org “This is huge for Families Plus and Delta county,” states Brenda Holland, Ph.D, Executive Director of Families Plus. “We are a leading non-profit organization throughout the nation with our unique wraparound model to aid youth in challenging circumstances by utilizing evidence-based practices.”
Families Plus was recognized for our work that includes three main objectives: enable access to comprehensive healthcare for underserved children, create a community system of support for underserved children and families and finally, develop community-wide collaboration efforts to promote behavioral healthcare throughout Delta County. Families Plus achieves these goals through what is called the ‘wraparound model’ developed by nationally renowned Psychologist Dr. John Vandenberg of Paonia, Colorado.
The wraparound model is a process that brings in key agencies, healthcare providers and community mentors to facilitate an integrated support system for children and families. The program focuses on working with children and their family via a personal one on one mentor, providing support for mental health care, allocating resources for physical and dental care and promoting community support with academic tutors, skill building activities, programs and sports.
“The model is a way of working with families by helping them to identify ways to enable their children’s success and then helping the family allocate available resources in our community, states Holland. “The model is successful because we listen to the family’s needs, and parents then get behind the changes with a sense of help provided and capability rather than feeling pushed into unwanted programs.”
Families Plus currently has ninety children enrolled within the program from ages five to twenty-four. “We work with children long term. We are there for them starting as early as elementary school and middle school and support them all the way through high school.” Studies show that at age eleven, children with early trauma, a high-stress home environment, and/or low-income families begin to struggle. “Our goal is to work to ensure children are able to stay within their home, remain in school, remain free of addiction and develop pertinent life skills. If we can achieve these things, every child has a better chance at becoming a thriving, healthy, self-sufficient adult.” – Brenda Holland.
Families Plus is not new, as Dr. Holland has been leading the program for over 20 years. However, she says Families Plus is not yet finished. There is still a lot of work to be done. Delta County still struggles with health care access and is seriously lacking substance abuse prevention. In the 2018 County Health Rankings, Delta County was ranked 41st out of Colorado’s 58 ranked counties, but Holland is optimistic. “Rural areas like Delta County often lack the resources to combat many issues, but I have found that this creates an environment for innovation. Our small community and organization size allow us to be more flexible and creative than larger urban programs. Families Plus is on the leading edge of wrapping effective services around youth and families that are facing stressful challenges.”
Families Plus small staff and board work tirelessly to help the program thrive. “Being a non-profit is always challenging when it comes to funding and sustaining growth, but we really owe our success to the people of Delta County. They not only donate finances, but they also donate so much of their time to supporting the program by becoming mentors in our program. Mentoring is a key component to the wrap around model and that would not be possible without all of the amazing individuals that have risen to the occasion.”
The residents of Delta County, ought to be proud knowing health care organizations locally are gaining national attention for its efforts to make our health care system, strong, effective and overall better. The Families Plus wraparound program is bringing the idea that ‘it takes a village’ to fruition.
To see the feature on the Rural Health Information Hub go to: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/1051