*Photo: Trainers in Washington County, Maryland learn the new training curriculum and how to, in turn, teach the information to relative and foster parents.
In July 2015, we shared details about an exciting partnership with New York University and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop and distribute a hands-on, experiential training curriculum for relative and foster parents. The training, which was written by Kelly McCauley, LSCSW, Associate Director of the KVC Institute for Health System Innovation, focuses on the impact that traumatic stress can have on children and youth. Its goal is to provide effective strategies and tools that help caregivers manager children’s challenging emotions and behaviors and answer the question, “Now that I know about the impact of adverse experiences on children, what can I do to help?”
KVC and the partners first tested the curriculum with KVC foster parents who were able to provide invaluable feedback. Next, KVC field-tested the information using a “train the trainers” approach in two national pilot sites in January and February of 2016. One of the sites is Richland County, Ohio, a small, rural county situated in the northern area of the state between Columbus and Cleveland. Ohio is a state-supervised, county-administered child welfare system with 88 public children’s services agencies. Matt Arnet, co-trainer for the curriculum and Clinical Director of Outpatient Services for KVC Kansas, says, “It was remarkable to see the connection the staff in Ohio had to the foster parent curriculum. They felt the same stresses, saw the same trauma, dealt with the same barriers that our staff do, and they also held the same belief that the training could truly help their foster parents. It was great to see the material resonate in a similar way across a different child welfare system in a different state.”
The second site was Washington County, Maryland, also a state-supervised, county-administered child welfare system located in western Maryland. At the time KVC’s curriculum was introduced, there were very few trauma-treatment services available under the Department of Social Services. Kelly Young, another co-trainer of the curriculum and Director of Family Preservation Services for KVC Kansas, says, “The Washington County training group was energetic, engaged and enthusiastic. Their passion and commitment to trauma-informed care was very impressive to me.”
Since training these two sites, our KVC experts have offered additional support through follow-up phone calls and in-person coaching sessions. We will continue to travel across the U.S. to share this curriculum with other public agencies to ensure that caregivers learn and practice skills that are critical in family moments ranging from the mundane to crisis situations.
Thank you to the following KVC foster parents for testing the new curriculum and providing important feedback: Dawna and Ben Gum, Kristen McBride, Marc and Amy Hawkinson, Robin McLellan, Naomi and Ernest White, Harmony Holman and Sheila Bailey.