Biannually, during the National Wraparound Conference, the National Center for Innovation and Excellence proudly recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding work in the field of Wraparound both within the United States and around the World.

The Program of the Year Award recognizes an exemplary model High Fidelity Wraparound program that adheres to the principles of practice, demonstrates, creativity, inclusion of youth and family voice at every level, and evidence that is based on the positive outcomes of the children, youth, and families served.

The Innovations and Excellence Person of the Year Award is presented to an exemplary individual who embraces and embodies the principles of wraparound. This individual demonstrates innovation, creativity, and promotes youth and family voice and strong partnership while contributing to the advancement of the field.

Congratulations to the following Innovation Awards recipients.

2016 Program of the Year Award Nominees

  • Wraparound Connections at Vista Del Mar
  • CHRIS Kids
  • Talbert House

Recipient: CHRIS Kids


2016 Innovations and Excellence Person of the Year Award

John Franz


2014 National Innovation Award

Eric Bruns, Ph.D.
Groundbreaking research scientist and leader
Co-founder, National Wraparound Initiative

2014 Global Innovation Award

National Association of Child Care Workers
Isibindi – Creating Circles of Care and Safe Parks

The mission of CHRIS Kids (CK) is to heal children, strengthen families and build community. CHRIS is an acronym for the values that drive the work of the program: Creativity, Honor, Respect, Integrity, and Safety. CK serves families and children who are entrenched in Georgia’s child welfare continuum including foster care, adoption disruption, intensive psychiatric treatment programs, psychiatric hospitals and juvenile detention centers.

CHRIS Kids partnered with Lookout Mountain CME to provide wraparound for youth and their families throughout the state of Georgia with a program called Community Based Alternatives for Youth. The purpose of the program is to work with Georgia’s youth who are at the highest risk of out-of-home placement and to maintain them in their homes and communities and to improve the well-being of the youth and their families. CK is also contracted to provide wraparound for the Georgia Department of Human Services with the Department of Family and Children Services and has held an additional contract with DeKalb County DFCS to provide wraparound called Youth Matters for over 10 years. 

Their newest wraparound program, Pathway to Permanence, is a small pilot program in which CHRIS Kids works specifically with foster care youth who have or are in the process of Termination of Parental Rights and are 18 years or younger.  The overall goal of the Pathway program is to assist youth with achieving permanence by providing a team focused on addressing needs and safety, linking to community supports, and building life skills to ensure successful transition into their family environment and/or independent living. 

In 2015, CHRIS Kids served 1,130 individuals through the Keeping Families Together or “KFT” program. The KFT program is designed to help children and strengthen their families so that children can remain safely in their own homes.
CHRIS KIDS’ long history of identifying gaps in services and developing innovative programs and services which accomplish the mission through a holistic trauma-informed approach that enables children, youth, adults and families to unlock their potential for happiness, health and self-sufficiency despite challenging circumstances.

Since 1981, CHRIS Kids has transformed more than 40,000 lives. They believe that potential is a right, not a privilege.

John Franz has been a long-time friend of children and family advocate. For over twenty-five years, John has partnered with agencies in communities around the country in their efforts to find better ways to assist families and children with complex needs. His skills are unmatched when it comes to untangling the many webs that complicate our work. Without question, John has been one of the most influential persons in the history of wraparound development beginning in the state of Wisconsin and nationwide. John has written many state and federal grants to support the development and implementation of strength-based community care initiatives.

John started his journey as a junior high school teacher, and then worked as a teacher at a residential treatment center for young men with complex needs. After law school he joined a public interest law firm where he drafted law and children’s code for the state of Wisconsin and participated in civil rights litigation on behalf of children and their families. John worked as an assistant district attorney in child welfare and delinquency cases.

He later joined Wisconsin’s protection and advocacy agency, representing youth with mental and developmental disabilities in special education and institutional reform matters. John opened a private law practice in which he primarily acted as a guardian ad litem for children and adults with mental, developmental and physical handicaps. He also served as an administrative hearing officer for permanency planning reviews and provided training around the state on the children’s code, juvenile offender detention and dispositions, permanency planning, foster care, adoption, special education, and related topics.

John is a reformative leader who was instrumental during the state of Wisconsin’s formation of System of Care by writing the founding legislation, providing training and support materials, and helping communities write and implement grants related to providing integrated services for children and families.

As a result of the great impact and legacy of John’s work in aiding and strengthening children and families he began providing consultation services throughout the United States and Canada with a focus on the integration of mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice and special education services within a unified system of care. This work has led to an increased concentration on strategies for organizational change and leadership in a rapidly evolving human services environment.

John is a wonderful Grandfather, wise listener, mentor, author, songwriter, problem solver, attorney and consultant who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

John has dedicated his career to youth and family advocacy, and he continues to utilize his talents to assist others in developing and expanding systems of care throughout the country.