Celebrating 10 Years of the Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) Program at Comprehensive Healthcare

Comprehensive Healthcare is marking a significant milestone as it celebrates a decade of the Wraparound with Intensive Services (WISe) program, an innovative initiative that has positively impacted nearly 800 children, youth, and families across the Columbia region. WISe utilizes a team approach to address the intensive mental health needs of children and youth, providing support to families in reaching their goals. WISe was originally established in the late seventies and early eighties by Karl Dennis, a social worker in the Chicago area. Since then, the program has spread across the country and has seen incredible results in providing intensive mental health support for families. 

Mistee Magalei, the Senior Program Manager for WISe at Comprehensive Healthcare, fondly recalls the early days when the agency transitioned from providing Wraparound through a Yakima County Systems of Care grant to becoming an early adopter of Wraparound with Intensive Services in four counties. “Year one, that was when I was driving around like a chicken with my head cut off, heading to a different county every day,” Mistee reminisces. 

Since those humble beginnings, the program has flourished, employing care coordinators, therapists, youth partners, and family partners across five different counties, overseen by three program managers. The WISe program was created to offer support for children and youth who couldn’t access intense mental health services in their rural counties, often leading to displacement from their homes and communities. Over time, the program has expanded to address the needs of children who haven’t found success with various interventions and services. 

Mistee emphasizes, “Our goal is to prevent long-term and expensive placements, and instead keep children in their communities where they can thrive, and work through challenges with their family or support system in environments that they know.” The program focuses on delivering intensive mental health services tailored to promote wellness, safety, and the strengthening of community relationships. Each child and family guides and drives the development of an individualized care plan, drawing upon natural supports such as family, friends, and religious leaders, alongside professionals including counselors, schools, CPS, and probation officers.  

In a heartfelt letter from a family who successfully completed the WISe program, the true impact and effectiveness of WISe becomes apparent. “Dealing with a child through WISe is not simple or easy and all involved must learn and live in ways that may seem counterintuitive. But the WISe team always patiently explained each step and helped us understand and use the steps they proposed,” they shared. “We have found that the WISe program really does work.” 

We have found that the WISe program really does work.

As the program commemorates a decade of service, Mistee expresses pride in her team’s dedication and commitment to the families they serve. “Each one of my staff is so committed to being intentional with the work that they’re giving,” she shares. Their unwavering commitment to the program’s values and mindset goes beyond the confines of the office; it becomes an integral part of who they are.  

Mistee, reflecting on the team’s longevity, emphasizes the profound impact they have on the communities they serve. “You know, I joke with them about keeping them from date of hire to date of retire,” she humorously notes. “I would love to keep them forever, but they don’t and that’s okay because the people that they come in contact with and the kids that they come in contact with, it spreads around the communities.”  

With remarkable statistics underlining their impact – over 2,000 CANS screens administered, nearly 800 youth and families served, spanning six counties, and an impressive roster of staff members with significant tenures – Comprehensive Healthcare’s WISe program has proven to be a beacon of hope. 

As the program enters its second decade, Mistee envisions further growth and innovation, including the development of youth and family partners who have graduated from the program themselves. “I would love to hire the kids that have been in our program and have graduated successfully,” she says. 

Diego Mendoza, Director of Yakima Outpatient Services at Comprehensive Healthcare, acknowledges Mistee’s leadership and commitment to WISe, highlighting her instrumental role in driving the program’s success. “Being the face of WISe for all these years and bringing it along to where it’s at today is incredible,” he remarks. “She said it herself – she was driving around to five counties to make this happen. So kudos to her and kudos to the team that has stuck beside her.” 

As Comprehensive Healthcare commemorates this milestone, Mistee shares a final thought regarding the influence of the WISe program: “We do darn good work. We work so hard alongside these families, and to see them be successful makes it all worthwhile.” 

We do darn good work. We work so hard alongside these families, and to see them be successful makes it all worthwhile.

With a commitment to keeping children within their communities and an impressive track record of service, Comprehensive Healthcare’s WISe program continues to showcase the transformative power of Wraparound services in building resilient communities. Congratulations on reaching a decade of meaningful work, and here’s to many more in the future.