You can’t be what you can’t see. That’s one of Nicky Jackson’s mantras, and one of the reasons she loves working with young people. In her role as wraparound facilitator at Oaklawn, she has the opportunity to model success for youth, while helping them and their families get the support they need to thrive.

“Most of the kids are more open with me than they are their therapist, their skills trainer or their parents,. They confide in me.”

Nicky Jackson

Wraparound Facilitator

Her job is to assemble a team of people – from professionals to informal supports – who work together to help one family succeed. In other words, support is “wrapped around” the family. It’s a more intensive program than others at Oaklawn – with specific eligibility criteria outlined by the state. But for youth who qualify, it makes a tremendous difference, she says.

Her day-to-day work is a mix of paperwork and one-on-one time with youth. “Most of the older ones, they like to go to a coffee shop and talk. They’ll tell me how their day was, how school was, have your behaviors changed or are they the same, why did mom make you mad. I’ve noticed most of the kids are more open with me than they are their therapist, their skills trainer or their parents,” she said. “They confide in me, and I like that they have that relationship.”

Nicky’s been at Oaklawn for about two years. Her path here wasn’t the typical route to social work. Her last job was as an insurance agent. She’s also a real estate agent, a hairdresser and a photographer. But she worked previously in a school setting, and that’s where she first discovered her passion for working with youth.

During Covid, she saw an ad for a virtual job fair for Oaklawn and decided to give it a try. She interviewed for several positions, but chose wraparound because of its unique approach. She loves the work, but she’s diligent to disconnect from it, too. It can be emotionally taxing, so she’s learned not to think about her youth during her time off. It’s challenging, but a necessary act of self-care. She also takes advantage of her PTO. Every six months, she takes off about 10 days and the break keeps her at her best.

She has a few words of advice for those considering a career in the field, too: “Be ready for a challenge, be ready for long days, and be ready to cry and laugh in one sentence. Our services help those in need, and I’m a servant. You’ve got to be a servant to be able to do this job.”

Share This