Graduation day - a picture of my mother and me after I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice (Corrections) studies from Kent State University in June 1977.
This was seven years after that fateful summer of 1970 when my mother and I realized that our family needed some help. When I look back at that time, I marvel at the love of GOD and the love from both parents as they began to realize that the harmful consequences of their domestic violence squabbles and of my father’s drug addictive behavior was adversely impacting the psychological functioning of their oldest child.
My various career roles as a mental health clinician, social worker in the county jail, behavioral health planner, public administrator, family advocate, and senior business consultant were shaped by my childhood traumatic experiences.
As a result, I’m very passionate about strong clinical standards of practice and of good record-keeping, during the 1990s, I worked with my colleagues to develop a taxonomy for alcohol and drug prevention services, presented a white paper to the Board of Trustees and developed RFP specifications and made funding recommendations for the ADASBCC Preschool Drug Prevention Project, I secured funding from local foundations to host two annual Preschool Drug Prevention conferences with about 200 individuals each year in attendance and a host of many other public policy, federal, state and county service demonstration initiatives that help to strengthen families.
As you can see, I have held a strong working philosophy that embraces various family engagement strategies, family support, trauma-specific services, and trauma-informed care services that inform, empower, educate and heal family dysfunction and provide some vital lifelines to children and their parents.
American Institutes for Research (AIR):
In October 2014, a white paper entitled “Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma-Specific Services: A Comprehensive Approach to Trauma Intervention” by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) provides data demonstrating the prevalence and impact of Trauma across most health and human service systems. The AIR brief states that “providing trauma-informed care requires an organizational commitment to building employee awareness, knowledge and skills to support recovery.”
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
Trauma= Refers to experiences that cause intense physical and psychological stress reactions. It can refer to a single event, multiple events, or a set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically and emotionally harmful or threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being
Trauma-informed Care= TIC is a strengths-based service delivery approach that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
Trauma-specific treatment services= These services are evidenced-based and promising practices that facilitate recovery from trauma. The term “trauma-specific services refer to prevention, intervention or treatment services that address traumatic stress as well as any co-occurring disorders (including substance use and mental disorders) that developed during or after trauma.
In closing, looking back at that summer of 1970, I can clearly see the resilience and strength characteristics that were already present within my family and that we needed family support and trauma-specific services not condemnation or my removal from the home.
Our family group therapy session enlightened both my mother and I and it was a turning point in my life because afterward, my mother’s unflinching love, support, and encouragement empowered me to go on to thrive in high school and become the 1st high school and college graduate in my family.
In 2017, child welfare administrators & staff utilize many approaches including the Differential Response (DR) framework which includes an array of family engagement, trauma-specific services and trauma-informed care providers in addition to traditional child protection investigatory and surveillance work activities. Again, the bottom line and main goal are to do “no harm”, protect & nurture the child, strengthen the child-parent bond and strengthen our communities because “Family Support Matters”.
American Institutes for Research (AIR) (October 2014) “Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma-Specific Services: A Comprehensive Approach to Trauma Intervention. Washington, DC. www.air.orh
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (2014) “Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services: A Treatment Protocol (TIP) SERIES 57. HHS Publication No (SMA) 14-4816 Rockville, MD. www.samhsa.gov