When the history of Trauma Informed Delaware is written, two dates will stand out—the day when Governor John C. Carney signed Executive Order 24 “Making Delaware a Trauma-Informed State” on October 17, 2018 and the day of the inaugural Trauma Awareness Month Kickoff in Dover on May 1.
About 350 activists, stakeholders, and officials came together at Delaware State University to be inspired, to learn, and to celebrate. First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, who has propelled the statewide movement to new heights along with her husband, Governor Carney, announced the first annual Compassionate Champion Award winners and presented a proclamation from the Governor. The winners (included in this press release on the event) reflected the diversity of the movement in Delaware—schools, school districts, a local police department, a collaborative partnership, a university college, state agencies, and a local community advisory council.
The event was the launch of Trauma Informed Delaware (TID), a statewide public-private coalition with a goal “to coordinate a sustainable community-based, trauma prevention and early intervention system that advances resilience through: Access to quality behavioral and integrated health care, strength-based services for youth and adults, and education for providers and the community.” TID will be central to the implementation of the Executive Order along with its partners, most notably the Family Services Cabinet Council that has specific leadership responsibilities delineated in the Order.
One of the Governor’s first actions in office was to re-establish the Family Services Cabinet Council to help coordinate public and private services for the state’s families. The Council coordinated the May 1 kickoff and is providing a hub for information sharing among state agencies, community partners, and the public.
The First Lady’s background and skills (she was on the staff of then Senator Biden and a senior school administrator for Wilmington Friends) made for a perfect fit for implementing her priorities all related to children and families. Her initiative, First Chance Delaware, works to promote partnerships to end childhood hunger, promote learning readiness, and address adverse childhood experiences.
In the seven or so years leading up to yesterday’s event, Trauma Matters Delaware had been convening a growing number people from diverse organizations across the state with an interest in implementing trauma-informed policy and practices. Like other states, there were pockets of innovation across many sectors but work remained largely siloed in Delaware. Trauma Matters Delaware connected advocates from around the state, across sectors, and created a foundation for future growth. The environment was ripe for the new energy and focus of the Carney administration and the First Lady on trauma.
The work of Trauma Matters Delaware (TMD) will continue but with a new focus on linking trauma experts to organizations that request training, coaching, and technical assistance in terms of evidence-based practices, policies, and procedures, according to Leslie Brower, Chair of TMD and Project Director, Trauma Informed Approaches, Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. Brower will be retiring at the end of May, leaving a key leadership position, funded over the years by the state and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Brower also chairs the Human Trafficking Interagency Coordinating Council formed in 2018.
As she prepares for retirement, Brower says she is excited about the leadership, energy, and collaborations that are emerging and believes “Delaware is on the cusp of doing something really big for the people of the state by fully embracing trauma-informed approaches.”
As more states seek to become trauma-informed, ACEs Connection will be reporting on lessons learned and promising practices. More about the implementation of the Delaware Executive Order will be posted this month as well as reporting on other state initiatives.