This is the third in a four part series on sustaining trauma-informed care through goal setting, data collection, monitoring, responding to regression, and communicating and celebrating success.
Each of these topics is explored in more detail in Making It Real, the team-based on line course for child-serving teams. In the course you get videos, planning guides and resources which guide your team through an implementation plan in each one of these areas. Check it out here.
There are many forces which push towards regression away from trauma-informed care and towards a more punitive response to clients. These include:

  • Being expected to do more with less
  • Higher acuity of clients
  • Staff shortages and less experienced staff
  • Injured staff
  • Unacknowledged vicarious traumatization
  • Administrative turnover
  • The punitive society around us

Even after much training and changes in practice, trauma-informed care can erode quickly. If close attention is not paid, staff will begin using time-based grounding, will respond to client behavior with punitive language, and will lose sight of the adaptive functions of behaviors. This is particularly true if staff are experiencing vicarious trauma and have no outlet to discuss, acknowledge and share it.
The important thing is to set up mechanisms in advance so that the Trauma-Informed Care Committee and/or the administration will be able to catch this erosion when it first begins. The earlier a team notices this slippage, the easier it will be to catch it, understand the nature of what is happening, and take steps to address it.

Click here for a list of signs that trauma-informed care is eroding.

Are any of these signs happening now in your program? How would you know if these things begin happening?
How could you plan for stressful times (such a large staff or client turnover) in advance to avoid deterioration in your approach?
Is there a forum in which you could regularly examine the state of our trauma-informed system? What indicators would you look at? Some might be: restraints and seclusions, grounding or exclusion from programing, number of activities and participants in them, sick time use, injuries. None of these is conclusive in itself, but any warrant further research and discussion.
If signs of erosion are discovered, it is important not to take a punitive or blaming approach towards staff. They too are doing the best they can and their behavior is adaptive. Instead, investigate together what the stressors are and how the team can take care of each other.

Click here for a list of 27 ideas for teams in tough times.

Click Here to Get Your Rating Scale.
Every team will experience erosion at some time. The key is to catch it quickly, understand it, and take actions to support the team.

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