SAP Implementation Coordinator, Jamie Tilley, and Implementation Manager, Amanda Dolinger, worked with Rebecca McLemore Stokes County Foster Care Supervisor to develop a presentation regarding trauma and the SAP pilot for the district court judges, the county’s DSS Attorney, and GAL. Due to COVID-19, the training was conducted online to ensure everyone’s safety.
Information was shared with the court staff about the importance of trauma informed practices and the impact of trauma on children & families involved in the child welfare system. It was very encouraging that all of the participants knew about ACES. The presenters discussed how a parent’s or a child’s trauma responses could impact their interactions with Social Workers, foster parents, and with the members of the Court. Also, we discussed how understanding trauma’s impact can help everyone working in the court system have appropriate responses to families. Trauma-informed court personnel will be able to ask the right questions about the screening, assessments, and treatment outcomes that children and families are completing as well.
McLemore provided details on the importance of participating in this pilot, stating:
“The Stokes County Department of Social Services became involved in the SAP Benchmarks program due to the increasing need of rapid mental health services for children who enter foster care. Given that Stokes County is a rural county, access to services can be challenging, often leaving the county staff to seek services outside of the county. Services outside of the county can be challenging when addressing barriers of transportation for birth parents who are engaged in the children’s mental health needs. By accessing the SAP Benchmarks Program, TiCCA providers are more local to the county which allows the barrier of transportation to be somewhat alleviated and more accessible to children in care. The rapid TiCCA also allows needed services and treatment quickly which supports the overarching goal of addressing children in Foster Care’s mental health without significant delays in services. Overall, Stokes County DSS is excited to be involved in the SAP Benchmarks Program and the significant outcomes that comes along with this program”
The judges were very aware of the pressing issues for Stokes County’s foster youth and were excited to learn more about the Standardized Assessment Protocol. We shared the SAP pathway and timeline, emphasizing the timeliness of Trauma-Informed Comprehensive Clinical Assessments as it relates to adjudication and disposition hearings, in which the judges make additional custodial decisions and enter orders regarding treatment and program participation for the families. Benchmarks shared the Project Broadcast Trauma Screening Tool and discussed how the TiCCA fosters holistic recommendations.
The judges received Judges’ Benchcards and resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which has great information about becoming a trauma-informed judge. The judges, GAL, and DSS Attorney were enthusiastic about the information they received and the potential impact of SAP on the foster children in their community. SAP and Rockingham County’s DSS staff are working toward hosting another training session for Rockingham County’s judicial staff as well. It is very exciting to see different parts of the Child Welfare system all learning and speaking the same trauma-informed language, as well as being open to new tools that will help children and families to receive the help they need to heal.