Organizational culture is the overall personality of an organization. This is comprised of attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and the values of an organization. An organization’s culture shapes and controls the interactions within the partnerships between agencies. Benchmarks’ Center for Quality Integration (The Center) internal organizational culture is reflected and filtered down to our communities through the daily work we do. The Center strongly values advocacy for the child welfare, mental health, and intellectual/developmental disability systems. We instill this value within our organization by advocating for staff to utilize self-care in a variety of ways, as well as allowing flexibility to create a home-work life balance. From the collaboration perspective, we provide our members and communities with tools and resources to be an expert voice in advocating for appropriate services and assessments for our most vulnerable populations. The Center translates research into practice, by advocating for trauma-informed culture and policies from the state level down to the grassroots level. These culture shifts and policy changes improve the outcomes for children and families involved in child welfare, mental health, and the intellectual developmental disability communities.
Our organizational culture places a very high value on educating others and furthering one’s knowledge. One way this is cultivated within the Center is through our book club, with books chosen by Jenny Cooper, Chief Research and Development Officer. Books that are chosen are typically about the child welfare and mental health systems, as well as other issues that affect child welfare work. This process broadens staff horizons, opening our eyes to new perspectives and ways of thinking to better support our local projects and communities.
The Center sustains its own organizational culture values and enhances others’ values through various training and webinar offerings throughout the year, as well as through participation in workgroups throughout the state. Recently, the agency hosted a special topics webinar on racial equity in assessments, focusing on how bias can affect how children and families are seen during the assessments, possibly leading to inaccurate diagnoses. The Center values one’s culture, knowing that culture has a strong influence on a person’s support system, how they experience their lives, and their achievements across the lifespan. One way we educate our communities on the importance of culture as it relates to trauma through our National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit Trauma 101 trainings. Also, we have incorporated equity and cultural considerations into our project implementation as well. We are in the process of updating the TiCCA (Trauma-intensive Comprehensive Clinical Assessment) to consider cultural perspectives and influences on the child, family, as well as their trauma histories and diagnoses. We believe that becoming culturally competent, trauma-informed, and resiliency-focused is a lifelong journey, so we strive to encourage these practices both within our agency as well as in our community endeavors.