"Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region—Community Benefit Programs (KPCBP)’s Youth and Trauma-informed Care grant program (YTIC), through which 20 community based agencies and school based health centers were funded in 2014, is a critical strategy for addressing community violence by focusing on prevention as well as healing. Experience of trauma in childhood is associated with a range of negative health, social, and educational outcomes.
Trauma is frequently undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. In particular, the role of trauma often goes unrecognized when a child has trauma-related externalizing behaviors. Adults often misinterpret trauma-related behaviors, presuming negative behaviors to be willful. Punitive responses can exacerbate concerning behaviors as well as alienate youth from the people and services intending to provide help. In the worst scenarios, interactions with providers and staff that provide intervention services can re-traumatize the young person, for example through the use of physical restraint or shaming.
In order to adequately address the needs of trauma-exposed youth, providers need to correctly identify the child’s trauma history and then develop an appropriate plan of care or connection to resources that addresses the relationship between the trauma and current symptoms and behaviors. Trauma-informed care fosters compassion for and empowerment of the young person, promotes understanding and coping—not just the management of symptoms—and applies a strengths-based approach that can help youth affected by trauma develop skills and relationships that foster healing.
With seven of California’s top ten counties for homicide rates located in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California service area, KPCBP’s commitment to helping prevent violence and support healing among individuals and communities through the YTIC funding is timely and highly relevant to the local landscape.
Twenty YTIC grants were awarded to advance the following four goals:
1. Increase/operationalize screening of youth to identify those who have experienced trauma;
2. Augment immediately available support services for identified youth (preferably on-site);
3. Expand/strengthen partnerships with referral agencies to provide additional short- and longterm services; and
4. Enhance understanding by teachers, staff, and providers about signs/symptoms of trauma and the broader adoption of a trauma-informed approach, particularly in response to, or as a first step in addressing disruptive behavior." (LFA's 2015 Evaluation Report)
One of these organizations, VOICES, engages youth in Sonoma County. The results of their multi year grant are highlighted in the attached report. Check it out as there are many lessons we can all take home to our agencies - including ideas for improving employee wellness.
Last week, Amarette Ficco and Amber Twitchell shared their journey of becoming trauma-informed through Sonoma County Office of Education's Trauma-Informed Agency Champion workshop. Funded by First 5 Sonoma, this workshop brought together nonprofits, schools, and community members sharing concern for families and individuals experiencing trauma. If you missed the workshop, be sure to glean the attached report for implementation gems.