At the end of 2017, Community Foundation of Sonoma County and Napa Valley Community Foundation enlisted the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct a survey of local nonprofit organizations about the impacts of the wildfires on the people they serve and on their organizational capacity to provide services in response.
While reading CEP Advisory Services "2018 Wildfire Response Survey" report through an ACEs and trauma-informed lens, the following findings jumped out at me:
1. Mental health was consistently cited among the top three impacts resulting from the wildfires, as well as a key individual and community need in the recovery. However, the majority of the nonprofits reported that a greater portion of their resources were focused on responding to immediate financial and housing needs of clients who lost their homes in the fires.
2. The majority of respondents (90%) indicated that the people they serve have been impacted by emotional trauma as a result of the wildfires, but only 14% cited training for trauma-informed care as a pressing community need.
3. As a result of the focus on services to address immediate housing and financial needs of those impacted by the fires, nonprofits reported a significant shift of services provided from the populations they served before the wildfires, including children and youth (-20%). Below is a graphic from the report illustrating the dramatic shift in services provided to specific populations.
I have my own takeaways from this report, namely about the key role mental health services play in recovery; the need for continued education and advocacy around trauma-informed care; and the significant impact that a natural disaster places on service providers whose resources are already stretched thin. I'm very much interested in hearing your thoughts!