Hi, my name is Casey Zuniga, and I am an Intensive Services Program Coordinator. I wanted to take some time to shed some light about our program and the amazing job our team does day in and day out.
Intensive Services programs fall under three funding buckets: Wraparound, Intensive Field Capable Clinical Services (IFCCS) and Full-Service Partnership (FSP), however services generally look the same. Referrals are generated through Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Department of Mental Health (DMH), and our internal Child Outreach Triage Team (COTT) program. Each team consist of a Facilitator, Therapist, Parent partner, Child and Family Specialist (CFS) who work tirelessly to stabilize clients in their current environments. Referrals range from clients 2-21 years of age. They have access 24/7 for crisis intervention with their current team members, until clients are ready for a lower level of care. Together, the team works with the client through such things as child and family hardships, crises, navigation of barriers, link families to needed resources, safety plans with the end goal being the celebration of another success. This month, I would like to highlight one teams’ effort in supporting a high-risk client case.
Facilitator: Jessica Shaylor
Therapist: Ebony Wilson
Child and Family Specialist: Ashlyn Favilia
Clinical Supervisor: Melissa Calderon
Upon admission to Wrap Around, AW, a 17-year-old African American female referred via DCFS, was on probation, was easily agitated/impulsive, living in a group home, had DCFS involvement in her life since age 9. Her baby had been taken from her and adopted. AW was hard to engage, and the team would drive from Antelope Valley to LA weekly to find ways to engage with AW. The prior CFS would make it the home, but AW would not have a meeting with the team. To try and increase engagement, team members were often asked to incentivize her to meet by taking her out to eat.
AW’s impulsive behaviors and aggressiveness caused disruption in her placement. The team continued to try to engage her even with the challenge of staff turnover as a couple CFSs transitioned to other positions. Understanding that consistency was key the team continued efforts to engage and help AW.
Jessica began building rapport with AW and started gaining her trust. It took a lot of work for Jessica to navigate her frustration surrounding the case, but she was patient and available for AW even when AW was trying to push her away. Jessica began filling dual roles while CFSs transitioned in and out and found small ways for AW to engage. Jessica was cheerful and empowered AW to run her Child and Family Team (CFT) Meetings. Most importantly, she respected AW’s boundaries when AW was upset or triggered by demands made by entities such as group homes, probation and/or DCFS.
Words cannot express how calm and patient Ebony is. When AW had barriers at her group homes and AWOLed, Ebony and Jessica were checking in on her wellbeing, making sure she was safe and informing group home staff of contact with AW. Ebony reached out to AW during crisis situations and validated her side. Ebony validated AW’s choice of not engaging in therapy and empowered her to take ownership of her goals. Ebony was not focused on getting AW follow the rules. Ebony was a support and validated AW’s hardships and helped her navigate her path with the burden AW had to carry until she was ready to do the emotional work that was ahead of her. Just when it seemed like we were just maintaining the case and not getting down to the nitty gritty, here comes Ashlyn (The dream team).
Ashlyn started off slowly. Ashlyn was so determined when building rapport, making sure she did not overwhelm AW or ruffle any feathers. Ashlyn built rapport after listening to AW’s wants and needs and helped her brainstorm plans to make them a reality. Despite carrying a heavy caseload, Ashlyn was consistent and available. AW went through some tough situations with police involvement and Ashlyn was right by her side throughout the entire process. AW made the right choice. Unfortunately, there was a negative consequence when AW was asked to leave her current placement and left that evening. Ashlyn was right by her side and has traveled with AW to three counties to support AW with this process. Talk about dedication!
The team had a real conversation with AW, and Ebony was able to have a breakthrough session. AW advocated for the team to stay on and address her needs. The team supported AW’s transition. AW turned 18 and got into transitional housing and was signed up for Independent Living Skills (ILS.) AW is close to completing high school, aspires to go collage and is currently working at Chipotle. AW’s case has transitioned from DCFS, and she successfully graduated the Wraparound program.
I want to thank to team for the heart and drive they had working with AW on this case and the excellent collaboration. At one point the team was close to giving up due to lack of participation.
I want to thank Melissa Calderon for the support and guidance she gave Ebony on this case and my Supervisor Daisy DeJesus for managing a program that never sleeps! I also want to Thank my counterpart Felica Ramirez for her support because what we do is not easy, but results make it worthwhile. Intensive Services Rocks!
As clinicians, often we plan ahead – we have our interventions laid out and perhaps think we may have all the answers. Therapy is not a one size fits all. With AW, we needed to get creative in working/supporting her. We had to take a step back and truly listen to what she wanted – essentially, meeting her where she is at and thinking outside of the box. It was when AW felt like she was being heard is when the walls came down and she was able to trust us!
My time with penny lane has come to an end but that doesn’t mean my friendships and bond I’ve made hasn’t. I’ve excelled. I’m in an 1000x better place than I was when I started. All I had to do was lead the way and my team followed behind me. I want to thank Jessica for always being there when I needed her even if it was at 12 AM. For always giving me reassurance that I CAN do this. For being a backbone of my wrap team. I want to thank Ebony for giving me a chance even when I wasn’t ready to progress in life.
For listening to what I had to say, accepting criticism when talking about our therapy plan (most people cannot accept criticism) And being so understanding to my feelings/emotions even when I wasn’t the best at expressing myself. And I want to thank Ashlyn for walking with me every step of the way (literally) and being a voice for me. For giving me the best advice for life and for the work world. For taking me to new mental places and diving into new topics I didn’t know much about before. I appreciate each and every one of the members of my team, you all have pushed me to be a better person even if you don’t believe it. I really love you guys and I deeply thank all of you. Although I may not be in program anymore, I know you guys will still be rooting for me.
Check out some pictures of our team with AW below!