Volume 5 • Issue 2 • February 2020
Uplift Family Services is a trauma-informed agency, providing whole person care through resilience-oriented, data-driven, culturally sensitive services. We believe in the power of staff investment, advocacy and collaboration as we partner with individuals, families, and communities to heal from the widespread impact of trauma.
What Has Uplift Family Services Done to Become a Trauma-Informed Organization?
Any organization can say it intends to become trauma-informed, or even that it is trauma-informed. The question is, what has that organization done to get there?
Over the past two years, hundreds of Uplift staff have contributed to our TI efforts. We did not start from scratch. The agency adopted a set of Service Principles long ago that, it turns out, have much in common with what it means to be trauma-informed. We were already working every day, for example, to be strength-based, collaborative, culturally respectful and relevant, responsive to customer needs and preferences, and skilled in trauma-informed treatment.
Between a commitment to these principles and 150 years of experience serving youth and families with trauma, we began our TI mission from a very solid launch pad. Over the past two years, we have:
- Participated in a year-long Trauma-Informed Resiliency-Oriented Learning Community offered by the National Council for Behavioral Health.
- Expanded knowledge and interest at all levels of the organization: leadership, Board of Governors, and the staff of all direct service programs and shared service departments.
- Stimulated discussion of TI principles in agency-wide and regional forums.
- Created the Lionhearted newsletter, began distributing it to all staff and posted on our website.
- Implemented six TI-inspired “dialogue values” to strengthen collaborative, creative problem-solving among the leadership.
- Collected digital resources on trauma for staff, including a catalog of online trainings.
- Began to integrate the best of our current trauma trainings into a single agency-wide training.
- Recommended specific upgrades to all agency-wide trainings to include TI language and concepts.
- Emphasized TI principles as we upgrade trainings on customer engagement and clinical assessment.
- Added trauma-related questions to the interview process and ensured that applicants were made aware of the risk of secondary trauma.
- Launched a review of our job descriptions and recruitment materials as a step toward embedding TI language.
- Developed a Service Principle on being Trauma-Informed and Resiliency Oriented.
- Recommended updates to both the agency’s values statement and to how we recognize staff who model those values.
- Surveyed program staff on workforce support issues and developed recommendations to strengthen support in the workplace.
- Began preparation for a similar survey for other departments.
- Started training managers and staff on how to make workplace culture more TI.
- Initiated work on documents describing what TI means to us as an agency and how we are becoming more TI.
These successes reflect the passion shared of many Uplift staff to prevent trauma, bring and end to its intergenerational transmission, and model TI practices in communities across the state. That passion will fuel our continued efforts to sustain and build on these accomplishments, becoming an ever more trauma-informed organization.
Uplift Family Services Trauma-Informed Project
Business Owners: Mark Edelstein & Elena Judd
Project Manager: Laurel Mechling
Sponsor: Craig Wolfe