Given this and what we see daily in youth development programs across the country, the need to help young people address the impact of trauma is clear.
The effect of trauma is far-reaching, impacting young people, their families and communities, and the adults in their lives - including YouthBuild program staff. To truly address trauma, programs must be intentional about creating, implementing, and integrating a trauma-informed approach throughout program services. Trauma and post-traumatic stress research shows that there is a “critical window” of vulnerability to traumatic stress in brain development. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), young people with complex trauma histories may have problems thinking clearly, reasoning, or problem solving. While we often hear youth told that they just need to “get over it” or “toughen up,” NCTSN’s research shows that there are biological and physiological aspects at play not only in managing trauma, but in functioning adequately despite its affects. This underscores the need for trauma-informed care in YouthBuild programs. The YouthBuild model requires youth to have healthy coping mechanisms and social interaction skills to support good decision making and problem solving practices as they navigate new material and work to unlearn behaviors and mindsets that impede their success.
In considering a trauma-informed approach for your YouthBuild program, these 7 Domains of Trauma-Informed Care, outlined by the National Council for Behavioral Health, are essential.
- Early screening and assessment
- Consumer-driven care/services
- Nurturing a responsive workforce
- Evidence-based/emerging best practices
- Creating safe environments
- Community outreach and partnership building
- Ongoing performance improvement and evaluation
Focusing on trauma-informed care requires a paradigm shift for the youth and for YouthBuild program staff. This must include the full team from educational staff to construction staff to managerial and administrative staff. For more on developing a trauma-informed approach for your YouthBuild program, see the archived DOL YouthBuild webinar Developing a Trauma-Informed Care Approach that Works, which was held on December 6th, 2016.