First 5 LA and its partners are calling for a commitment within organizations and systems to help individuals, families and communities heal from trauma, strengthen their resiliency, and become trauma and resiliency informed.
Background: On April 1, 2016, First 5 LA, in partnership with The California Community Foundation, The California Endowment, and The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, launched a countywide trauma-informed care systems change initiative with the commitment of more than 30 public, nonprofit and philanthropic partners.
The Center for Collective Wisdom (C4CW) was chosen to design and facilitate the exploratory phase of the initiative, which included an extensive environmental scan of current research and trauma-informed systems change efforts from across the country; and a workgroup process for funders and county-wide partners to strategically plan and advance development of a trauma and resiliency informed Los Angeles County.
Partnership Goals: Advancing trauma-informed care and services in Los Angeles County is a collective effort built on the commitment of public, nonprofit and philanthropic communities.
Within informed communities, individuals and families will better recognize pervasive trauma, and the county’s public institutions and service systems will strengthen the critical role they play in understanding and addressing trauma. As a more informed county develops better responsive systems, trauma-informed approaches will be more fully integrated into policies, procedures, and practices, and actively applied to resist re-traumatization.
The connection between trauma and parenting plays a significant role in the lives of parents, children and their communities. Whether early childhood trauma is experienced by the parents or their children, it can have a profound impact on the future well-being of families and play a serious role later in a child’s life.
First 5 LA provides training to grantees and other stakeholders to provide information on factors that:
- Support resiliency and healing
- Build a foundational understanding of trauma
- Identify significant causes of early childhood trauma
- Explore how trauma impacts not only a child’s health and behavioral development, but parent-child-community relationships as well
The relationship between childhood trauma and homelessness is cyclical. The latter exacerbates childhood exposure to trauma, and childhood trauma can be a contributing factor among adults who experience homelessness. The cycle is a damaging relationship, and a costly one to individuals, agencies and communities. Growing consensus among researchers is increasingly calling for systems that touch homeless families to address trauma caused by loss of home, safety and security as well as other traumatic events that often pre-date or accompany homelessness such as domestic violence and/or substance abuse.
First 5 LA estimates that on any given night 3,000 children, ages 0 to 5, are among the county’s families experiencing homelessness and living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, in cars, under bridges or in other places unfit for human habitation. They are among the 2.5 million families with children – of whom approximately 50 percent are under the age of six – estimated by the National Center on Family Homelessness to be homeless in the United States at least one night within a given year. And they are estimated to have higher rates of school absenteeism, developmental delays, and mental health problems than other children. They are sick four times more often than other children and have emotional and behavioral problems such as anxiety, depression and aggression at three times the rate of their peers.
Without a trauma-informed approach, which uses trauma and its effects in the design and delivery of services children may suffer negative consequences that last a lifetime including potential damage to their mental, physical, cognitive and social functioning.
For reports on Trauma and Resiliency: A Systems Change Approach:
- Emerging Lessons and Potential Strategies from the Los Angeles County Trauma and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change Initiative, July 2017
- Year 2 Lessons and Potential Next Steps for the Los Angeles County Trauma and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change Initiative, August 2018
- Executive Summary of Year 1 and Year 2 Final Reports for Los Angeles County’s Trauma and Resiliency-Informed Systems Change Initiative, August 2018
To read more about the trauma-informed county, contact Tina Chinakarn, MPH, program officer at First 5 LA at [email protected].