Mid-Hudson Regional Youth Justice Team, Westchester County, New York
Westchester’s Trauma Committee faced the dilemma of not knowing what actions to prioritize, where to concentrate efforts, and how to assess the impact of these efforts.
At the same time, the Mid-Hudson Regional Youth Justice Team, having recently attended a Resilience Film Workshop, was committed to assessing trauma-informed attitudes across its seven counties and agreed to partner with the Department of Community Mental Health to roll out an extensive administration of the Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care (ARTIC) survey.
The 10-item form was chosen since the longer 45-item version was found to erode the response rate in a pilot study, thus making assessment more accessible for respondents. The survey did not include demographic information since the goal was to examine organizational climate via collective attitudes. This also eliminated concerns about confidentiality and anonymity that can contribute to reduced response rates.
The ARTIC was administered to the staff of seven counties in five county departments: Probation, Courts, Child Welfare, DSS Non-Child Welfare (E.G., benefits, family support, etc.), and Mental Health/Youth Bureau. Four types of job roles were assessed, and respondents were invited to share any thoughts about what would help their department become more trauma-informed
ARTIC scores were generally high across the sample of 1,161 respondents, with intriguing variations based on county, job role, time spent with clients, and department. Such variations brought into relief specific areas of need and opportunity, along with bright spots of strength to build on and excellence to sustain.
Each county received a confidential report with graphs showing their ARTIC means against relevant regional means. These reports aimed to provide a baseline against which change can be measured, identify areas of need, and invite discussion about what actions are most needed. The ARTIC will continue to be re-administered periodically to assess changes resulting from such actions, which will ensure that changes are meeting emerging and evolving localized needs, ultimately supporting sustainable trauma-informed transformation.
Impact examples that other advocates looking for how to assess needs as well as monitor and evaluate progress can look to include:
This project reflects an attempt to measure trauma-informed attitudes not just within a single organization but also across multiple departments in multiple counties. It offers a topographical map of attitudes within our public service system and provides local norms against which to understand these patterns of belief about trauma.
The design of this initiative allows additional county departments, such as the health, public safety, and corrections, to be added to create an even fuller picture of trauma-informed services across the region.
Westchester’s Department of Community Mental Health hosted a department-wide event in which its ARTIC scores were presented in the context of the county and region. Staff members had intriguing and essential insights regarding the findings and their interpretation, which contributed to keeping the dialogue going among those most impacted and led to some focused next steps. It is hoped that as other counties and departments review their results, similar discussions will lead to the collaborative development of focused action plans.
Creation of the Westchester Breathes Initiative and training workshops
Development of Trauma-Specific Treatment and Intervention Resource Directory and accompanying Consumer Guide
Various agencies and settings have formally (through winning grants, such as local schools) or informally adopted Trauma Systems Therapy – which is both a clinical intervention and an organizational framework for integrating service provision within a system, and which integrates clinical perspectives with wraparound practices and community organizing
“TST is implemented within an organization to serve as a framework for organizing a multi-disciplinary team of providers from within and outside of an organization to coordinate their interventions.”
Two large school districts (received grants that have been renewed many times to bring TST into work with students without housing and their families), Westchester County’s Department of Social Services, a residential provider, a grassroots organization, and a home-based wraparound program from a community agency.
Ongoing supervision and training from the NYU Child Study Center and Fordham University continue to refine this community-based approach to trauma-specific services.
These and other key activities undertaken by this committed team continue to contribute to building a more equitable and coordinated system of services and supports for people with lived experience, a more diverse and robust trauma-informed workforce, and a more resilient and connected community.
Want to share your community’s efforts to implement trauma-informed care? We want to hear from you!