Patterns of student progress in the Intensive Wraparound Service

Publication Details

Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) is designed for the small number of children and young people with highly complex and challenging behaviour, social or education needs, including those with an intellectual difficulty. IWS in New Zealand is a relatively new and rapidly evolving service that began in 2009/2010. In 2014, IWS aimed to support up to 285 students with a further 50 students being supported through a combined IWS/Severe Behaviour Initiative. This evaluation focused on the IWS-only students and was designed to contribute to the further development of IWS. It is part of a wider evaluation designed to provide the Ministry of Education and sector stakeholders with a fuller understanding of how three of the key PB4L initiatives-School-Wide (SW), Incredible Years: Teachers (IYT) and the Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)-are being implemented in New Zealand.

Author(s): Jacky Burgon, Melanie Berg and Nicole Herdina, New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Report for the Ministry of Education.

Date Published: March 2016

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Executive Summary

Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS) model in New Zealand is designed for the small number of children and young people with highly complex and challenging behaviour, social or education needs, including those with an intellectual difficulty. IWS is an ecological approach with students and family and whānau at the centre of the model. IWS supports students and families, and schools, and makes links across the key groups in the ecological model. Wraparound is an intensive, individualised care, planning and management process for children and young people with complex mental health, behavioural, and special education needs. Wraparound is often implemented for young people who have involvement in multiple child-serving agencies and whose families would benefit from coordination of effort across those systems. Wraparound is also often aimed at young people in a community, who regardless of the system(s) in which they are involved, are at risk of placements in out-of-home or out-of-community settings, or who are transitioning back to the community from such placements. (Bruns & Walker, 2010; The Wraparound Process: An Overview of Implementation Essentials)

In the 2014 year, IWS aimed to support up to 285 students with a further 50 students being supported through a combined IWS/Severe Behaviour Initiative. This evaluation focuses on the IWS-only students. IWS-only students have their needs met through the development and implementation of a comprehensive individualised plan. IWS-only students include those referred to one of the three residential special schools for behavioural and/or learning needs (Salisbury; Halswell; Westbridge). Students need to be prioritised into IWS before they can be considered for enrolment at a residential school. The decision-making process around accessing these residential schools is between family and whānau and the Ministry and is needs based. 

Evaluation Approach

 IWS in New Zealand is a relatively new and rapidly evolving service that began in 2009/2010. This evaluation was designed to contribute to further development of IWS. It is part of a wider evaluation designed to provide the Ministry of Education (the Ministry) and sector stakeholders with a fuller understanding of how three of the key PB4L initiatives-School-Wide (SW), Incredible Years: Teachers (IYT) and the Intensive Wraparound Service (IWS)-are being implemented in New Zealand. The evaluation includes both process/developmental and outcome aspects. This is appropriate for a new programme. Over the life of this evaluation the IWS processes have continued to evolve and expand in numbers, scope and systems development. This has provided challenges as well as opportunities for the evaluation to feed back into the ongoing development of IWS in New Zealand.

The evaluation comprised case studies of 28 students and surveys of people involved with students in IWS. In both 2013 and 2014 we undertook surveys of team members, and teachers and principals. Case studies included file analyses and interviews where possible of key people in each case study (these included IWS psychologists, some lead workers, some parents/caregivers and whānau, and school staff (both local schools and residential school staff)). In total we had approximately 90 interviews for analysis. We have organised the sections of this summary and the report to reflect the perspectives of those who are part of the IWS ecological processes:

  • the students
  • parents/caregivers and whānau
  • schools
  • IWS teams. 

Following these perspectives is a commentary on other key areas for IWS: transitions and links with other agencies. The report finishes with a summary and discussion of the evaluation findings.

Quick Summary of Findings

Students:
  • The students who are prioritised into IWS have complex and challenging needs, and documenting progress for these students is also complex. They have a range of unmet needs across a number of areas and progress is variable across different areas of their life and across time.
  • Students receiving IWS have already had intensive support (described in New Zealand as Tier 3 support) and this support has been unsuccessful and/or needs further resource to support sustained positive outcomes for students and their family and whānau.
  • Despite their complex needs, many students made significant progress while in IWS—progress that was remarkable in a number of cases given their history prior to entering IWS. They made sufficient progress to be able to be enrolled in, and attend school on a regular basis. Many of these students had been out of school or were unable to attend school on a regular basis prior to IWS. Therefore this was a significant change.
  • Maintaining presence at school is an important outcome. The findings predict that, of the 28 case study students still receiving IWS, 14 are likely to maintain their full-time attendance at school or post-school option, and four were less likely to. For the other 10 students it was difficult to predict their transition back from residential special school to a local school, though many of those students were making good progress at the residential schools. For the four students who had completed IWS, two remained in school and the other two were not in school or not in school full time.
  • Three-quarters of the students in our case studies made progress in learning and/or independent living skills.
  • Over two-thirds of students made progress in the key life competency areas of Tinana(respect for the safety of others), Hinengaro (mental health) and Mana motuhake (self-concept).
  • Fewer students (less than half) made progress in the key life competency areas' outcomes related to cultural identity, Hononga (friendships) and Ngā takaro (leisure activities). A range of factors relating to students, families or IWS teams made these areas more complex to address or maintain.
Parents, Family and Whānau:
  • All but one of the parents/caregivers we interviewed were highly positive about IWS for their family and whānau.
  • For many, relief was evident that their student was receiving effective support..
  • IWS was providing strategies for them to support their child, and giving them agency when working with schools and other government departments.
Schools:
  • There was increasing agreement by principals and schools that IWS as a model would work.
  • Our surveys and interviews indicated that IWS was an enabler for many schools with great results for the student and that there is school ownership of the IWS plan in many instances.
  • There is evidence of increased teacher efficacy and confidence in some schools because of IWS.
  • There are ongoing challenges in the role of teacher aides, and in getting the right teacher aides to support students and teachers.
  • There remain ongoing pressures on school staff time and resources in relation to IWS plans.
IWS Teams Members:
  • The IWS psychologist role is clear for most.
  • There is less clarity about lead workers' roles.
  • There were some examples of skilled exemplary practice which appeared from our multiple data sources to be clearly linked to remarkably positive progress for students.
  • There were some examples of outstanding bicultural support, and examples where more bicultural support was required.
  • There were less Pasifika students receiving IWS, and many IWS team members identified the need for more support for Pasifika students and their families.
Other Government Agencies:
  • A major finding in this evaluation is that links across government agencies are frequently not as good as required to ensure the best outcomes for students and their family and whānau.
Transitions:
  • Transitions are multiple and challenging for IWS students.
  • There were some complex, challenging but successful transitions.
  • Unplanned transitions had the potential to significantly reduce continuity of support for students.
  • Transitioning out of IWS into post-school options was relatively new for IWS and there were less clear pathways and processes for this aspect of transition.

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