After months of thorough preparation and planning, I embark on the first leg of my Churchill Fellowship travel to the United States of America. I will be visiting four cities in The USA: Richmond, Virginia; San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City in New York; to explore the latest evidence on trauma-informed care and the approaches that work best with marginalised communities that will enable them to deal with the trauma experienced and improve life outcomes.
A lot of the research undertaken in trauma-informed care has been conducted in USA. I want to be able to compare the evidence from both continents and plan to use my findings to develop a toolkit for health professionals working with young people who have experienced trauma.
The aims of the project are:
- To obtain the latest available evidence in trauma informed care
- To investigate the principles of trauma informed care
- To gain an understanding of support programmes that enable young people who have suffered adverse childhood experiences to heal
- To develop a support programme that is cost effective and can be cascaded to those that work with young people that have experienced trauma
Virginia has developed a Trauma informed community network (TICN) in Richmond, to create community awareness about trauma and its impact, to organise and formalise the dissemination of training, and create a support structure for the implementation of the principles of trauma-informed care across their system. I plan to visit The Greater Richmond TICN to learn how they set it up with a view to setting one up locally to progress the work Lewisham is doing around contextual safeguarding using this model; and eventually develop a pan-London TICN.
San Francisco, California
Most of my time in San Francisco will be visiting The East Bay Agency for Children (EBAC) and their partner organisation. EBAC’s transformational programs help children, youth, and families recover from trauma; build upon existing resilience to protect against long-term harm from past or future exposure to adversity; and when possible, prevent exposure to adverse childhood experiences. Guided by a trauma-informed approach, EBAC’s eight distinct, direct service programs include counselling programs; a therapeutic nursery school; five Family Resource Centres; a health and wellness centre, and grief support, afterschool, and youth empowerment programs.
EBAC also works towards achieving its mission by working locally and nationally to transform systems through its nationally recognised, ground-breaking, Trauma Transformed initiative which provides training, leadership coaching, and policy and practice change consultation, and convenes system and community leaders from government systems and community-based organisations. My aim is to learn how to employ a Public Health responsive approach to trauma and build self-healing communities.
I plan to visit The Health Federation of Philadelphia that serves as a keystone supporting a network of Community Health Centres as well as the broader base of public and private-sector organizations that deliver health and human services to vulnerable populations. I will be learning about Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Community Resilience and how they are linked. A focus will be on preventing trauma and stress and its potentially preventable negative outcomes, by supporting workplace health, healthy communities, thus reducing the likelihood of events leading to ACEs.
I will also be observing practice at The Family Practice and Counselling Network (FPCN) which provides person-centred, integrated and comprehensive health services to individuals and families across their lifespan. The Network is a nurse-practitioner led community-based health centre that integrates trauma informed care, and promotes resilience and well-being among patients, staff and surrounding communities.
New York City, New York
Whilst in New York, I will be visiting The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. I will be spending time at The Equity and Innovation Unit, at The Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health to learn about trauma informed systems and equity and how they have improved the health and wellbeing of families of colour.
So many visits planned!
Let my Churchill Travel Fellowship begin!
USA, here I come!