System of care, wraparound critical in Guam

October 20, 2012

Props to our system of care friends in Guam for this article published today at

  • Do you know what system of care and wraparound are about? These are important terms discussed with families during orientation to receiving services at I Famagu’on-ta.

    A system of care is an organizational framework and an approach based on a philosophy and core values of child-centered, youth-guided, family-driven, strength-based, cultural and linguistically relevant/competent and home/community-based services. System of care, as defined by Beth A. Stroul and Richard M. Friedman, is a comprehensive, organized and coordinated network of individualized mental health and necessary services to meet the multiple and changing needs of children and their families.

    Over the past 25 years, the system of care approach has provided direction and guidance in reshaping children’s mental health services.

    Wraparound is about service planning and service delivery by bringing agencies, families and support systems together — “wrapping” services around the child/youth and family. This system of care and wraparound approach has been extensively adopted not just by mental health, but by child welfare, juvenile justice, education, early childhood programs and other systems — public and private — that serve children, youth and young adults in transition to adulthood and even by many adult-serving systems throughout the country.

    Evaluations have shown the system of care approach to be successful both in contributing to system reforms and in improving outcomes for children, youth, and families.

    Guam was fortunate to have been awarded the Child Mental Health Initiative grant, a six-year cooperative agreement, back in 2002, which created I Famagu’on-ta, Guam’s first system of care, now a graduated and a locally funded site. Another six-year CMHI cooperative agreement award was received in 2009, known as Project Karinu, for early childhood mental health services under the Department of Public Health and Social Services.

    In 2011, I Famagu’on-ta/Department of Mental Health and Social Services was awarded an expansion planning grant to develop a strategic plan with action steps for the expansion of a unified system of care islandwide for children from birth to age 21.

    The Guam strategic action plan is a collective work of families, youths, agencies and stakeholders over the past 12 years. It will be available for distribution by the end of this year.

    If you are interested in learning more about system of care and wraparound, or reserving a copy of the Guam Expansion Plan, please contact I Famagu’on-ta at 477-5338/1050, or visit our website at

    As a community, let us partner together and sustain the system of care/wraparound best practices to improve our young people and family lives for a better Guam.

  • Annie F.B. Unpingco, LCSW, is administrator of the Child Adolescent Services Division and I Famagu’on-ta at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
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