• The Trauma Informed Care Empowerment Program is a collaboration between Dr. Grace Harlow Klein of the Center for Human Encouragement and Christopher Basher, Chief Operating Officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware. The goal of the program is to increase the impact of staff responses to children who are experiencing trauma in their lives. Currently, more than 3,000 children and youth come to Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware’s 43 Club programs on a daily basis.

    The project draws on Christopher Basher’s recognition and deep understanding of the needs related to trauma as experienced by staff and children served in the Boys and Girls Clubs. In responding to those needs, Dr. Klein draws on her experiences with clients who have experienced childhood trauma as revealed in their psychotherapy with her. In addition, her experiences in the empowerment workshops for nurses, which she designed and implemented over twelve years with Armin Klein and Virginia Whitmire, bring even greater depth of understanding to the project.

    Under Basher’s leadership, a special committee selected ten outstanding youth development professionals from Clubs located across the state to become the Trauma Informed Care Empowerment Team.

    Dr. Klein is working with the Empowerment Team, both in person and through video conferencing, to mobilize their efforts to address issues of greatest need in their work roles. They are currently working to design a training program for staff for working with children and to set a standard for those interactions between staff and children.

    In addition, staff are identifying issues that children are experiencing and bringing to their involvement in daily programs. For example, children who are removed from parent(s) and placed in foster care, and who are experiencing trauma of lost relationships, stability and familiarity in their lives. They bring their pain with them to the staff.

    Another example is the many children who grow up with only one parent in their home, experiencing the loss of the second parent and stability that might otherwise be provided. In each of these and many other similar cases, large numbers of children come to the Clubs each day in great need of comfort and support, sometimes acting out in anger and pain.

    In each of the needs or scenarios identified by the Empowerment Team, the group will work with Dr. Klein to develop response models to increase the impact of their caring for the children, response models that hundreds of other Club professionals will be able to use in helping thousands of other young people.

    Poverty is an overarching factor in the life of these children. 78% of those children served by the Boys and Girls Clubs come from families defined as poverty by their income levels. The multiple deprivations experienced by these children are the reason for Boys and Girls Club’s services, whose mission is “to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.” In addition to the impact of poverty in their lives, the children bring experiences of family disruption and abuse and losses due to deaths, violence, and drug abuse.

    In its pilot phase during 2020, the project will continue to move forward toward the vision, goals, and objectives shared by Dr. Klein and Mr. Basher. The desired outcome is true and greatly needed trauma informed care, not only for the hundreds of children currently in need of such care, but for many thousands of children who will come to Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware in the years to come.