Groundbreaking Child Welfare Research

Erika Meyer

SaintA is known for being a leader in innovation in the human services arena. As an agency we constantly strive to improve both our product and the experience of our employees. The continuing application of trauma informed care (TIC) has been revolutionary for our organization and our community, but for some time now we have wondered how to utilize it in an area that just may need it the most: Ongoing Case Management in child welfare.

An incredibly generous, three-year grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Russell J and Betty Jane Shaw grant is allowing us to explore just this. How can we apply TIC in a meaningful and effective way that produces better outcomes for both our families and our staff members?

Two Ongoing teams have been chosen to act as our “treatment teams.” Two additional teams will act as a comparison group. The treatment teams have received basic and advanced TIC training and are being encouraged to use their knowledge in their everyday work with children and families. They will be using a special, trauma-focused staffing protocol to understand specifically how trauma may or may not be impacting that child and to encourage ways to improve the situation for that child. Our agency’s Seven Essential Ingredients of Trauma Informed Care will be used as the framework for the protocol.

All four teams will be measuring their clients’ (ages 3-18) trauma symptoms. The results of these measurements will give us a better picture of our children’s experiences as well as provide us with qualitative data. An improvement in the overall trauma symptoms may suggest to the treatment team that what we’re doing is working. In addition, children or teens with a very high score will receive an NMT™ assessment.

Not only will SaintA be attempting to standardize a trauma-focused practice for Ongoing Case Management, the grant allows us to study the adverse childhood experiences (ACES) of a sample of birth parents we serve. We can then compare our results to those of our state as well as the original study in California.

Stay tuned, folks. This is groundbreaking stuff! There is little to no research on standardized TIC protocols in the field of child welfare. We will be learning as we go from our ambitious Ongoing Case Management teams that have taken on this project.

To say I’m excited about this project is an understatement. I predict this will have important implications for how we work with our children and families and will ultimately produce better outcomes. Once again, I’m proud to see SaintA leading the way in advancing its mission of improving the lives of the clients we work with.

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