Incorporating a trauma-informed perspective into work with foster youth begins with fully understanding the impact that traumatic events have on children. During this training, CASA DC’s staff had the opportunity to build on their knowledge about trauma, attachment, brain development, and resilience and how these factors affect foster youth. Staff additionally learned specific techniques to use during coaching sessions with volunteers in order to improve their engagement with youth.
Some key takeaways from the training include:
Children who experience abuse or neglect can experience atypical attachment. Children who grow up in an unsafe or chaotic environment often create an underlying belief that people are unpredictable and cannot be trusted, which can make it challenging for them to build healthy relationships with others.
Behavior and play are the processing tools children have to work out their trauma. Often, the behaviors or style of play a child develops to protect themselves during trauma can be unhelpful once the trauma has resolved (for example, anger outbursts).
CASA Volunteers should always focus on a youth's WORLD instead of their words. When interacting with traumatized children, it is important to be supportive, validating, and honest, while being clear with boundaries.
Staff can help coach CASA Volunteers on sitting with youth during challenging emotions, how to support without saving, and how silence can be a powerful tool to use to get someone talking.
Working with individuals who have survived trauma can be emotionally taxing on the helper. It is important to have a strong toolkit of self-care to help lessen the effects of vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue.
To access and read through the presentation slides in their entirety, simply click on the PowerPoint doc below.