Campus News

Social Work representatives promote trauma-informed model at state policy forum

By BERT GAMBINI

Published October 11, 2018

headshot of Susan Green
“Our goal at the policy forum was to provide other commissioners and state officials in New York with the information necessary to build, develop and assess this important framework of trauma-informed care.”
Susan Green, clinical professor of social work and co-director
Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care

Representatives from the School of Social Work’s Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC) were in Albany last week to discuss how counties across New York State can adopt a trauma-informed organizational culture within their social service departments.

Susan Green, clinical professor of social work and co-director of ITTIC, and Samantha Koury, project manager and trainer at the institute, discussed the trauma-informed organizational model developed by ITTIC and provided the social services commissioners and state leaders with details on the implementation of this innovative organizational approach.

Their presentation was part of the New York Public Welfare Association’s Social Services Leadership and Policy Forum, held Oct. 3-4 at the Century House Inn in Albany.

The institute has emerged as a leader in promoting and implementing trauma-informed care principles across various disciplines.

ITTIC’s work with the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, the Trauma-Informed Community Initiative of Western New York and the Mental Health Association of Erie County was instrumental in helping Allegany County become the first county in the state to pass a trauma-informed policy resolution.

“We’re proud at ITTIC that this resolution passed through the coordinated efforts of the institute and our partners,” says Green, an expert on child welfare and trauma. “The legislation encourages for-profit and not-for-profit agencies and emergency services personnel to become educated on the prevalence and effect of trauma; to implement trauma-specific and evidenced-based interventions and practices; and provide services that are trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive.”

Vicki Grant is a graduate of the UB School of Social Work and currently serves as the commissioner of the Allegany County Department of Social Services. She participated in ITTIC’s first WNY “TIC Champion Collaborative” comprised of 36 professional representatives, or “champions,” from 32 organizations across the eight counties of Western New York who worked to draft the policy resolution that was used. Grant was critical in getting the resolution passed in Allegany County, according to Green.

“As the first county in New York to pass trauma-informed legislation, Allegany County’s legislative action is locally innovative and demonstrates an investment in its populace,” she says.

Trauma-informed care has emerged over the past few years as the gold standard for delivering social services.

The trauma-informed approach is a framework for understanding, recognizing and responding to the signs and symptoms of trauma. It provides an environment guided by the values of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment for all individuals in order to minimize the risks of re-traumatization.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution that requests national recognition of the impact of trauma, and the importance and efficacy of trauma-informed care.

“Our goal at the policy forum was to provide other commissioners and state officials in New York with the information necessary to build, develop and assess this important framework of trauma-informed care,” says Green. “Passing the resolution in Allegany County is the first step. What happens next can position New York as a national leader in the implementation of a trauma-informed approach to service delivery.”