A conversation with developers and authors Katherine Ortega Courtney, PhD and Dominic Cappello
What is the goal of the 100% Community initiative?
The goal of the 100% Community initiative is to empower innovation to ensure safe childhoods, successful students, and well-resourced and high functioning families. We wish to see that all the cities, towns and communities within a county’s borders are well-resourced to support the health, safety and education of all residents. All our work is designed to be meaningful and measurable.
We provide local leadership training, empowering program participants with the skills, resources and support to: 1) identify the magnitude and root causes of adverse childhood experiences, trauma and social adversity; and, 2) to inspire collaboration and develop data-driven innovations that focus on building the quality and quantity of 10 vital family-serving services/programs shown to empower children, students and families.
Why is the 100% Community initiative needed?
The facts are that nationally one out of eight children will be substantiated as maltreated by age 18 by child protective services. A quarter of our children and adults will endure or witness adverse childhood experiences. Untreated trauma exists in families across all socio-economic levels. What we have in all fifty states is an epidemic of childhood trauma and maltreatment, largely ignored by lawmakers and the mass media.
Here is another less abstract way to answer if we “need” a data-driven and collaborative local 100% Community initiative focused exclusively on creating safe childhoods.
Imagine a third-grade teacher named Susan looking at her class of 30 students.
Susan could count off every fourth child–as more than a quarter of the students (and their parents) could endure adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) which means living in households where adults misuse substances, are threatening or violent, have untreated mental health challenges, are abusive and neglectful, are dissolving marriages or are incarcerated.
The vast majority of ACEs fly under the radar of child welfare yet they carry high emotional costs, diminishing a person’s ability to learn, work and establish healthy relationships.
Our book Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment provides the details to better understand the magnitude, root causes, emotional and financial cost, intergenerational cycle and challenges related to adverse childhood experiences, trauma and maltreatment.
How does the 100% Community initiative strengthen the innovation process?
The 100% Community initiative gives the participant readiness to bring people together to identify challenges and design innovations — to respond to what local communities experience within an epidemic of childhood trauma and maltreatment. Using data, the participant can respond to the specific challenges a city’s families are facing, as opposed to responding to what one thought might be happening. The 100% Community initiative is about listening to people, using data to assess challenges and the capacity to solve problems. It’s about planning, action and evaluation — all focused on creating solutions for children, students and families.
When we are developing innovations, who should be in the room?
Preventing ACEs, trauma and social adversity can only succeed by engaging with all the leaders within a county’s border including the mayors, city councilors and city manager, county manager and commissioners, school superintendents and school board members, and state senators and representatives.
I would add to the list of stakeholders the directors of the nongovernmental organizations that serve children, youth and families, along with higher education leaders.
These are stakeholders a 100% Community initiative keeps in constant communication with, providing updates via email and social media. When it comes to specific initiative projects, the more diverse a team and advisors, the richer the experience. While we may be focusing on areas traditionally addressed by those in the public sector, we greatly value our partners in the business community. Participants with expertise in information technology, systems thinking, and entrepreneurship bring much value to our process of innovation. We also encourage our innovation teams to reach out to artists, writers and designers, all with experience in the creative process. We believe our solutions live within both the public and private sectors.
What are the prerequisites for starting a 100% Community initiative?
We follow the collective impact model so a backbone agency must be identified to support the co-community organizers and ten action team leaders and members who have the capacity to implement the parent and youth survey countywide. A county needs, in phase one when we assess parents and youth to measure their access to ten vital services, leaders from each of our ten surviving and thriving sectors to access family members.
I would add, that In addition to a solid organizational base, the collective impact model guides us to having on the county level a shared vision and goals, shared understanding of data use and communication strategies, along with interconnected activities.
What are the ten vital family-centered services?The surviving services are: stable and safe housing programs, food security programs, behavioral health care, medical/dental care, and transportation. The thriving services are parent supports, early childhood learning programs, fully-resourced community schools, youth mentorship and job training.
We understand that in some communities, families live without the basics of survival: food, shelter and health care. In other communities where survival is secured, families may still not be able to access parent supports like home visitation, behavioral health care, youth mentors, early childhood learning programs or job training.
We focus on the ten vital services/program areas because they improve the conditions in which families raise their children. These conditions are called the social determinants of health, impacting the lives of our children and parents. Our work addresses health disparities and can be a catalyst for health equity.
What’s the structure of the 100% Community initiative course?
The course is designed for the co-community organizers of the initiative, action team leaders, members and change agents working within, ten “surviving” and “thriving” family-serving agencies (or organizations that might wish to expand their services to meet the needs of children, students and parents). The lessons build on each other. The course consists of seven lessons. Four of them follow the phases of continuous quality improvement, the framework guiding our entire initiative and all project development.
We start with Lesson 1: Engage, providing the overview of the initiative and course. Lessons two through five are Assess, Plan, Act, and Evaluate.
Lessons 6: Partner, focused on the state and local partners who can make or break, or at least delay, creating a seamless countrywide system of care for families. Lessons 7: Program, focuses on setting up the county-based initiative.
What’s the difference between a “trauma-informed” process and preventing trauma?
Trauma-informed care can be described as a strength-based framework in the social sectors and behavioral health care that is responsive to the impact of emotional trauma in children and adults. This approach emphasizes physical and emotional safety for both service providers and survivors; and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control over their lives and a feeling of empowerment.
An example would be Ms. Janes who teaches fourth grade. She has taken an inservice on ACEs and is very sensitive to the needs of her students who show signs of trauma associated with ACEs. She is trauma-informed. However, she works in a school and community where behavioral health care is very hard to access without the right household income. Other services to support safe housing, secure food and medical care are also difficult to access. Ms. Janes is not able to refer her students and their struggling family members to accessible local services for help. As you can see, being trauma-informed is an important step but there are many more to take to truly help our most vulnerable children, students and families.
Another example, a small rural town in New Mexico may be able to say that services at a mental health agency are trauma-informed. We applaud this. But that does not mean that the town has enough behavioral health care providers to meet the needs of families. “Trauma-informed” describes the quality of a service, not the quantity of services or how accessible services are. It’s a vital distinction. Improving quality may take only the right workshop or in-service. Then again, it might take a longer-term process of continuous quality improvement with an organization’s leader and staff. Improving the quantity of family services and accessibility means hiring more people (or sometimes creating a new organization) and that can be a huge budgetary challenge for agencies, as well as city county and state governments. Trauma-informed is the vital first step in addressing the epidemic of trauma but many more vital steps exist. We must be willing to take them.
In a nutshell, what are course participants in for?
Our job, twenty years after the original publishing of the ACEs Study by doctors Felitti and Anda, is finally mobilizing to prevent trauma before it happens. This is very different from being trauma-informed, which is an intervention after the fact. With the 100% Community initiative, we are doing what has not been attempted before. We have one amazing opportunity in front of us, creating truly family-friendly and child-centric communities where there are no gaps in services so everyone–children, teens, parents and caregiving grandparents– gets the best chance at being trauma-free and thriving.
Engage with the community
10 Innovations & Action
- Job Training@100%: Return to the main sector article
- Innovation #1: Tracking supply and demand within job training programs
- Innovation #2: Ensuring current job training programs are fully supported
- Innovation #3: Engaging the private sector in supporting job training innovations
- Innovation #4: Harnessing technology to create an online directory and resources
- Innovation #5: Generating public awareness and engagement
- Innovation #6: Make sure your education system is on board
- Innovation #7: Ensuring that local higher education is engaged in research, solutions and evaluation
- Innovation #8: Supporting city and county governments in job training and creating jobs
- Innovation #9: Identifying how the federal and state levels can strengthen local services
- Innovation #10: Developing the City Department of Job Training and funding for innovations
- Action Plan: You’re all about jobs and futures
- Get the BIG picture (Home Page)