At Creative Health we are passionate about facilitating the understanding of the impact of trauma or Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on children, families and the community. In order to translate that awareness and understand into practice, we have successfully established and nurtured partnerships with other community providers to deliver coordinated and collaborative trauma-informed care.
We partner with Mission Kids, Montgomery County’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC), which provides a center for the team investigation of child abuse cases. Child abuse victims are interviewed in a child-friendly setting by a specially trained forensic interviewer. The interviews are conducted in a manner that is legally sound, neutral, fact-finding, and coordinated to avoid repeated interviews and trauma to the child. Representatives of the DA’s Office, law enforcement and social services work together as a multidisciplinary team and observe, but do not participate in the interview as it takes place, thereby reducing the number of interviews a child victim must undergo. This team approach supports and protects children throughout the legal process, preserving their physical and emotional well-being. The investigation process is compassionate with respect and well-being of the child of the utmost importance. http://missionkidscac.org/services/
Our work with Mission Kids includes an embedded, licensed clinician who is able to establish therapeutic relationships with kids experiencing trauma, specifically abuse. This created an opportunity for staff from Mission Kids to deliver the Darkness to Light training to all Creative Health Staff, allowing the same trauma-informed lens and approach beginning at intake and continuing through treatment.
Pottstown Trauma Informed Community Connection (PTICC)
Ineffective or inappropriate responses to children and youth (and adults) who have experienced trauma results from a lack of understanding, which we want to help change. From a position of responsiveness and with the purpose of creating a greater awareness of ACEs and to create the appropriate supports and interventions to address individual and community ACEs, Creative Health was invited to join a collaborative convened by the Pottstown School District and PEAKin 2015. Our goal is to change the response from “What’s wrong with you?”–a question that is asked of children, individuals and families who struggle with permanent housing-- to “What happened to you?” We have examined the barriers to responding to ACEs, which include: lack of awareness of ACEs, little knowledge about available services, and access to and use of those services.
PTICC’s objective is to create a culture of safety, understanding, and care in the community of Pottstown that addresses both the short- and long-term impact of ACEs. We have created a comprehensive network that includes learning communities, messaging and communications, the implementation of a social and emotional learning curriculum in the Pottstown School District, and a network of providers able to offer education, services and supports to address the barriers to effective responses to ACEs. This network includes parents and caregivers, professionals who spend time with children, first responders, providers and resource networks, faith-based groups, and community members.
Creative Health has been extremely instrumental in moving the ACEs awareness goals forward as our Director of Development and Public Relations directed the Messaging and Communications workgroup, resulting in the PTICC website featuring clear and hopeful messaging around ACEs and how they can be addressed on a community and family level. Our CEO and Clinical Director and our Director of Family and Community Justice Services/Police Liaison also serve on the PTICC Steering Committee. PTICC has engaged approximately 125 community stakeholders in community meetings (held quarterly).
The HUB Model is an evidence-based, collaborative problem-solving approach that draws on the expertise of relevant school and community agencies to address the complexities that originate in behavioral and school performance issues in the classroom or home. We understand that behavioral issues at home and in school can point to deeper issues and do not occur in a vacuum, so we seek to address the root cause(s) with a real time connection to services.
In response, the Superintendent of the Pottstown School District and the CEO and Clinical Director of Creative Health Services, Inc., the community behavioral health center in Pottstown committed to the Pottstown HUB which began in August 2018 and meets monthly in the Boardroom of Creative Health.
The HUB model we seek to replicate is a moderated, intentional conversation with school and community collaborators at the table. “Cases” are referred to the HUB through a mechanism involving the PSD Family Services Coordinator, presented in a set format, and as needs are mentioned representatives of agencies (in the room) take responsibility for reaching out and offering concrete services in a specified time period. At some point, a decision will be made to continue or discontinue a case on the agenda, based on progress.
Specific indicators that lead to referral to the HUB include: behavioral and relational difficulties in school or at home; school performance issues; suspensions; expulsions; housing and food insecurity; substance use/abuse issues; behavioral health issues; and justice system involvement (not an exhaustive list). The referral, identification and tracking process is managed by the PSD Family Services Coordinator.
HUB participants represent the following sectors: Creative Health Services (Community Behavioral Health Center), Pottstown School District, Primary Health and Dental Care, Police and Police Liaison, Housing and Food Security, Funds, Before/After School Support, Substance Use Counseling, Behavioral Health Counseling, Referrals to psychiatrist for counseling, and Mentoring (not an exhaustive list).
The referral process originates with any child-serving agency by submitting a “case” to the Family Services Coordinator embedded in PSD. Cases are presented at the HUB meeting, held every third Wednesday of the month. During case presentation, providers (around the table) commit to outreach with expedited connection to a specific service, in a specified timeframe (prior to the next HUB meeting).
The HUB’s focus on early, multi-disciplinary preventative intervention is promising, as evidenced in other communities using the HUB model. This referral and engagement strategy will direct public resources to effectively meet the needs of students to achieve the best outcomes for children, families and communities. We have been meeting for the 2018-2019 academic calendar and our internal Director of Development and PR has developed a logo to further message this strong trauma-informed approach.