International Experience Brings Lots of Pride

As I sat on my long flight home from Canada recently, I reflected back on all of the presentations and knowledge learned from a week at the ChildTrauma Academy conference. I couldn’t help but compare my discussions with other agencies with our work at SaintA, and specifically within our Treatment Foster Care program.

Rachel Garlock

I felt pride that SaintA has been recognized as a Flagship site, one of only six in the world. This honor represents a whole agency that has dedicated substantial training hours and resources to ensure that understanding and treating trauma is our no. 1 priority. The agency believes in this goal so much that the Board of Directors was willing to approve attendance by eight employees for a whole week in Canada to learn more about the concepts and bring them back to our agency. I feel fortunate to have been able to go and represent our extraordinary agency and share our hard work and dedication with other agencies that are just starting to incorporate trauma informed care into their daily practices.

I returned from Canada feeling lucky to be part of an amazing TFC program. I met individuals from several other agencies who presented and discussed their work incorporating the principles of trauma informed care into the daily practices of their programs. I was proud to think of the commitment seen in my co-workers, supervisors, and foster parents over several years, keeping an understanding of trauma at the forefront of their practice.

I thought about the hard work of my co-workers, who work late nights to meet the needs of a child who had a difficult visit or a bad interaction in school, how, rather than scolding the behaviors, they are able to show empathy and understanding of what led up to these difficult behaviors. My co-workers advocate for the child to be seen not by their behaviors, but by their strength and resilience. I thought about our supervisors, who push to be sure that we are meeting our own self-care needs and provide support and a listening ear when everything seems to be falling apart.

At the end of the day, I found myself most impressed and proud to work with our strong, dedicated foster parents. Having completed a trauma-based curriculum prior to licensing, our foster parents are able to express a good understanding of the effects of trauma and effective ways of working with traumatized youth. Our foster parents have done such an incredible job being able to watch a behavioral outburst without taking any of the attack personally and recognizing the hurt and underlying needs in our children. They take in both the foster children as well as their families and work with them both to heal and re-establish their relationship. Listening to other agencies, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the high difficulty level of the children our foster parents work with — and excel with. Our foster parents reach out and have been able to maintain difficult children in a safe, supportive home environment, without giving up.

I remain excited for the future and ongoing transformation of trauma informed care within SaintA and the TFC program. As more and more people internationally become aware of the neurological impact that trauma has, I am proud to be at an agency that already has adapted to this model and presses forward on finding new innovative ways of working with traumatized youth.

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