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Wraparound Center is providing services to thousands of Peoria Public Schools students

Mike Rundle

The Wraparound Center at Peoria Public Schools has been active, serving thousands of students since opening in 2018.

At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, Dr. Derrick Booth, the outgoing Director of Social/Emotional Learning and the Wraparound Center, led a presentation from community partners who offer services from the Wraparound Center, including OSF HealthCare and FamilyCore.

Booth says that the Center’s work is multifaceted, serving both students and the community.

“One of the goals of providing these supports, resources, and services was to provide individuals and families with access,” said Booth. “Access to services in a community [in Peoria] that was, and still is, the most economically distressed, and these services were not accessible.”

Booth says that the partnerships with each organization include a financial component as well.

“One of the barriers that I asked each of these community partners to remove was cost,” said Booth. “The clients that utilize the services at the Wraparound Center do not pay a dime for anything, and so we use creative ways to make sure those services are paid for.”

Dr. Bernice Gordon-Young serves as the substance abuse counselor for students at the Center. Despite being a relatively new position, Gordon-Young says that she has met with a number of students for reasons.

“Everybody’s story wasn’t necessarily the same—so when you think ‘substance abuse,’ you sometimes think these are students who are using [drugs],” said Gordon-Young. “This started off as substance abuse, but it really turned into a holistic way of counseling [the students] because we started talking about the topics that were important to them, things that were underneath the decisions they were making in terms of incorporating substances.”

Other services available at the Center include a food pantry, youth justice advocates, and legal guidance.

Superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat emphasizes that Booth has been integral to the growth of the Center, and that the District hopes to continue its expansion.

“We started off with an idea, and this Center and the service just blossomed beyond our wildest expectation under the leadership of Dr. Booth,” said Kherat. “This is who we are at Peoria Public Schools. We’re a public entity, we’re serving everyone: the rich, the poor, those in the middle, everybody. We’re working with where they are.”

Mike Rundle is a correspondent at WCBU. He joined the station in 2020.