Job Title: Wraparound Youth Partner
Caitlin Carlini has spent almost six years working as a Wraparound youth partner with YouthERA in Lane County, Oregon. While Caitlin normally works with young people aged 14 to 18 in Wraparound, she has worked successfully with children as young as 11.
Caitlin describes much of her work as revolving around gaining buy-in from her young people. Building buy-in often starts with fun activities and outings, which serve as an opportunity for Caitlin and her youth to get to know each other. Building on that foundation, Caitlin works with her youth to help them develop their vision and make sure that the team is on board: “I’ll emphasize with my youth that, ‘This is your life, and we want to make sure that we’re working towards what you want, towards your vision, and this is not going to work without you.’ When they realize that the team is actually working toward their goals – and not just trying to tell them what to do – then often you will see them really begin to blossom. I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s pretty special to be a part of that young person’s journey.”
Being part of her youths’ journeys is a big part of what’s kept Caitlin in her role, even though she’s completed her Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling and could be looking for better-paid positions. Caitlin sees the youth partner role as offering her the opportunity to build a unique type of connection with young people. “I just love direct service and I love serving young people, and my role allows me to build a relationship with them in so many different ways. I did go to grad school to become a therapist, but in the role of youth partner the understanding of boundaries is different, and I can use my own lived experience to connect with them in a way that’’s really special.”