November 6, 2014, San Francisco, California
The speakers included Kimberly Beckstead, San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team; Dave Lockridge, ACE Overcomers; Jim Sporleder, Sporleder Consulting; Jane Stevens, ACEs Too High and ACEs Connection (moderator).
Jane Stevens, founder and director of ACEsConnection.com and ACEsTooHigh.com introduced the panel of speakers in the context of the two to three dozen other communities embarking on becoming trauma-informed.
“There’s no formula,” Stevens reminded us. “Someone different starts the movement in every different community.”
In Yolo County, it started with juvenile justice, in Sonoma County it was the Child Parent Institute and a county maternal child adolescent health coordinator.
In Merced, something never felt right to pastor Dave Lockridge. As he progressed in the church, he seemed to be “burring more people than he was marrying.” After burying a 16 year-old who committed suicide, his wife, who directs Mercy Medical Center's medical education, brought him info on ACEs. He slapped his head.
“This is the missing truth,” recalls Lockridge. He went back to get a degree in psychology, developed a scripturally and scientifically accurate Christian response to ACEs, ACE Overcomers. Used primarily in rescue missions, Lockridge also implements a secular version of the program in high schools.
“We are body soul and spirit and need to learn an approach that encompasses all,” says Lockridge. “By retraining the brain and resetting the nervous system, teens and adults have more ability to create wise choices, to respond rather than react.”
Lockridge is currently working with researchers at UC Merced to validate his program.
In Walla Walla, WA, Jim Sporleder, former principal of Lincoln High School, was introduced to ACEs by his hero Teri Barila of the Children’s Resilience Initiative. The initiative has provided over 500 ACEs presentations in the community and responds to ACEs through collective impact approaches, which includes education.
“As a principal, if there was a family in crisis, everyone was around the table the next morning using the same language to address the needs of the family- judges, police, mental health, faith based community- they all took ownership,” says Sporleder.
“We were doing it all wrong with punitive approaches,” says Sporleder. So he changed it. “We started asking the questions- what’s going on? Why did you tell the teacher to F-off?” Then he listened to the kids, and was able to teach about triggers, self-regulation, and hope, not just survival.
St. Mary’s Hospital put on a back-pack program for homeless students (25% of the student population) every week packed with food to carry kids through the weekend. The wrap-around services let kids know that someone cares.
“It gives them a sense of pride,” says Sporleder. The faith-based community set up a school based health center. “Most kids hadn’t seen a doctor in 8-10 years,” says Sporleder.
One year after doing away with the punitive and adopting restorative, trauma-informed approaches, school suspensions dropped 85%. Kids are now making YouTube videos to teach their parents resiliency skills. Through Sporleder Consulting, the former principal continues works with schools in Walla Walla to train others on changing the paradigm, to adopt trauma-informed and restorative justice practices.
Six years ago in San Diego, social worker Kimberly Beckstead started the San Diego Trauma-Informed Guide Team. If you don’t want to recreate the wheel, here it is! Kim attended a training with Stephanie Covington and Gabriella Grant. She signed up to start a guide team, along with four other “green” case managers, not knowing what it would entail. She learned that becoming trauma-informed needs to be research based, that’s where the ACE Study came in. Strategic planning, technical support, trauma champions with a shared passion for integrating services, and a trauma informed paradigm shift are critical. An elevator speech is a must: "The promotion, development and provision of trauma-informed services in San Diego County agencies and systems.”
Figure out why it matters and articulate that. Then you educate across all populations, by connecting people with context through personal stories. “It’s a lens, a philosophy, so it can be used to train from the bottom up, that’s the beauty of it,” says Beckstead. Core values include transparency, respect, dignity, non-judgmental, integrity, accountability, compassion, respect, and diversity. Individualized strength-based services are tailored to the needs of agencies and systems, with a high standard of professional competency. The San Diego Trauma-Informed Guide Team facilitates a meeting of the minds every other month, with over 60 agencies and 150 individuals on the listserve.
Major accomplishments include assisting San Diego Youth Services, the poster child for changing organizational culture to be trauma-informed, with developing a trauma 101 training. The guide team also inspired San Diego County Health and Human Services agency to develop a system wide trauma-informed policy.