Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Alliance Conference

I have just returned from presenting at the national conference of the Alliance for Children and Families ( in St. Louis, Missouri. Many agencies represented there are some where along the path of incorporating trauma understanding into their residential or group care. Many are just at the beginning, and are struggling with similar questions. People are concerned about lack of staff skills, boundaries, time, resistance, and fears that chaos will break out. Several people made the point that in some ways the trauma-informed approach is a return to our roots. Many agencies started as orphanages, and in the early days love was considered the main tool. There were strict rules, but also an emphasis on caring and flexibility. At my agency, people who grew up there in the orphanage years (now in their 80s) come back to visit- and they remember "Miss Mable" who "thought I was special". The relationship is the power!

Mark D. Freado, Director of Re-education and Consultation, and Lisa A.
Shepard, Senior Director of Clinical Services, Pressley Ridge. Presented on "Creating a Trauma Sensitive Culture through Competency Training". They described how Pressley Ridge ( is using staff training, competency development and evaluation to change the treatment culture.

In addition to implementing trauma informed care, agencies are focusing on more effective, careful management, branding, outcomes, fund development, and Board development. In a keynote presentation Stephen B. Heintz spoke of the power non-profits and their staff have to influence public policy in his address: "Power to the People: The Critical Role of Civic Engagement". Thomas J. Tierney highlighted "The Leadership Deficit" in the non-profit sector, and emphasized the importance of active succession planning at all levels of all our agencies.

It was heartening to see so many agencies beginning to add a trauma framework to their approach. Let’s all work together to figure out how to do this! Please add your experiences through the comments option in this blog- just click on the word "comment".

1 comment:

Shea Hutchins, LCSW said...

Hey Pat! The CARES Center, Inc residential and day school programs are now seven weeks into our new "REACH" system which includes the restoartive approach. Yes, our staff have experienced chaos, especially during the first 4 weeks. However, we expected to see that increase in chaos and "acting out" behaviors in our clients because we introduced SIGNIFICANT change into our system. Although our seclusions spiked during the 1st month of this change (which we predicted would happen) the numbers were still down compared to the beginning of the year. We actually saw a decrease over the summer months and we associated that with the increased training we were doing with the staff on trauma and attachment. The kids are doing better and the staff is starting to feel more comfortable in their role. We have increased group and individual supervision (although we still have room for improvement in this area)for our staff to give them the support they need and deserve. I look forward to tracking our progress over the following months and seeing the fruits of our labor. Your blog is very informative and we are using some of your ideas for discussion in supervision. Your blog is a wonderful tool to those of us who are only beginning the journey of the Restorative Approach.