Five years after the community wraparound strategy started, the program stands on the precipice of continued expansion and change. The strategy’s successes and lessons learned to date give the program a solid foundation on which to build, so that everyone continues to benefit as much as possible.
The program must also continue its strong track record of evolving to better serve children. Perhaps the greatest potential area for improvement as identified by participants is to develop more consistency and continuity in staffing for both principals and site coordinators. Long-term relationships build trust, and trust is in turn the gateway for students, parents, and community members to ask for and receive the services they need to thrive. On an academic level, a stronger focus on literacy between kindergarten and third grade is needed to help wraparound students close the gap with their peers.
Whatever happens in the future, the entire community must keep in mind that for Cleveland and its people, the stakes could not be higher. Every child deserves a high-quality education, which now more than ever is the primary indicator of future success, stability, and happiness. The wraparound strategy is a means for ensuring they receive it.
“Think of the potential that’s lost when we don’t ensure that a child can read at grade level, when they don’t graduate high school, when they aren’t able to get a family-supporting job,” says Augie Napoli of United Way. “We can’t let another generation go by where that happens.”