New LCCS grant will help parents work through past traumaWritten by Danielle Stanton | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lucas County Children Services (LCCS) is preparing to implement what it calls a game-changing, systemwide training program this summer, thanks to a $72,800 grant from the State of Ohio.
The grant will allow the agency to pinpoint areas of trauma in the lives of parents and children and develop individualized treatment plans.
Behind antisocial behaviors, including crime, sexual abuse and the abuse of drugs and alcohol, is often a trauma the person suffered early in life, said Laura Neal, assistant manager of family services at LCCS.
Parents who were traumatized often pass their pain to their children. LCCS wants to help nip issues in the bud by helping parents heal their trauma so they don’t repeat it, Neal said.
“Now we’re taking that next step and looking at what’s going on behind the problem,” said Julie Malkin, LCCS public information officer. “We’ve become so much more attuned to the needs of our families.”
LCCS, a countywide social service agency based in Toledo, works with families to place children in foster care, facilitate adoption, prevent child abuse and offer a host of other treatments through its partners in the children services sector.
LCCS wants all its supervisors, managers and caseworkers to be trained under the new grant. Multiple partner agencies, including the courts, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and counselors for emotional and physical abuse, will also undergo the training.
There are two types of trauma — acute and chronic, Neal said. Acute may be the loss of a loved one, whereas chronic might be ongoing physical or emotional abuse.
Neal said most parents who come to the agency have unresolved trauma issues and have learned to cope with them through maladaptive behaviors including criminal behavior, physical or sexual abuse or substance abuse.
“I’m really excited about this. We’re the only county in Ohio who is embracing this and trying to be a trauma-informed agency and the benefit is to the family,” Neal said. “The federal government is recommending that trauma is a huge part of child welfare. We’re ahead of the game here.”
The training is offered by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which has worked with the Chadwick Center for Children & Families out of San Diego. They were the first to implement the training program 10 years ago and it’s now being implemented across the country, Neal said.
“Traditional counseling doesn’t work,” Neal said. “We need counselors to understand. Traditionally, we see parents using drugs and it’s because they have some problem in their life. Now we’re going to be able to delve into what drove this parent to be using drugs.”
Training will occur in phases starting this summer and ending in December, Neal said. A kickoff two weeks from now will feature a trauma survivor based out of Washington, D.C., who wrote a book based on her experiences. A communitywide kickoff will happen June 23, and will include court employees and foster parents.
The training will change LCCS’s current practices, Neal said. The agency may have more pre-placement visits where children use art therapy in addition to a “whole continuum of things” they will do differently, she said.
“It’s more like a deepening empathy and a deeper level of understanding,” Neal said. “Once they become trained they will have a deep understanding for the parent and patience for them as well.”
Gone are the days of the stereotypical social welfare agency that only swoops in and takes away children, Malkin said.
“Our goal is that we have children going home and staying home in a safe environment,” Neal said.
As part of the grant, a trauma coalition is being formed and its committee will meet at 2 p.m. the second Tuesday of every month at United Way of Greater Toledo, except for April 14 when it will meet at the EMS Building. The meetings are open to the public. Coalition and committee members will include those from the schools, LCCS, courts and mental health providers.