Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Made for Love - Trauma Responsive Care

 We believe that every child has the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. For the children in our care, it is crucial that they are also treated with a compassionate and understanding approach that accounts for past trauma. We know that trauma changes the way children interpret the world around them, the people in it, and where they belong. It shapes and impacts children’s emotions, behavior, memory and ability to learn.

Most of the children who come into our care have experienced trauma, such as abandonment, loss of parental care, chaotic family situations, and sometimes invasive medical procedure and prolonged hospital stay. These stressful experiences can adversely affect a child’s sense of safety and stability, which leads to difficulties in forming close and healthy relationships. 

This requires that we adopt a trauma-responsive frame of mind in all aspects of our work. It means that we not only have a good understanding of the impact of early trauma, but we also need to be able to recognize the signs and behaviors of trauma. 

Children who have experienced trauma may exhibit a range of behaviors that indicate their inner struggles. These can include withdrawal, aggression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and hypervigilance. Recognizing these signs (and NOT regarding them as trouble-making or attention-seeking) is crucial for providing appropriate support and intervention. 

For example, one day a child slapped one of her classmates in school. The classmate had patted her on the back, wanting to tell her to stand in the line. This was seen as a serious breach of school rules, and our group home manager was informed. Knowing the background of this child, the group home manager understood that this child was not meaning to hurt her classmate, but it was a fight-or-flight response to what seemed to be a "sudden strike" in the eyes of this child. After discussion with the school, this child was given opportunities to amend her wrongs and make things right with her classmate. 

To provide trauma-responsive care also means making deliberate efforts to build a sense of connectedness with the child. Many children who were impacted by interpersonal trauma have difficulties building and maintaining meaningful relationships. In order to help them, it is our job to create a supportive environment where they feel seen, understood, respected, and cherished. 

We provide children with supportive environments through our family model of care and our early learning classrooms, where they can experience positive relationships. In their everyday life, we try to provide predictability and consistent routines. They helps maintain a sense of security for the child. Being able to know what to expect every day reduces anxiety and help children feel more in control. We also create opportunities for children to make choices. This helps them regain their sense of control, practice agency, and learn to be responsible for their choices. 

We are also providing ongoing trainings for staff members to ensure they can consistently provide trauma responsive care.  It is our job to understand the impact of trauma, to recognize its signs, and to respond with compassion and connectedness, so that we can help the children find hope and possibilities for their future.

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