Helping Children Heal: Promising Community Programs and Policy Recommendations

In examining successful programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Children’s Defense Fund suggests in a new report that community-based programs are effective ways to heal trauma experienced by children and youth.

“Helping Children Heal: Promising Community Programs and Policy Recommendations” looks at the successful practices of four programs: RYSE Youth Center in Richmond; and the Destiny Arts Center, Niroga Institute, and Beats Rhymes and Life in Oakland.

The report also offers policy recommendations that could help policymakers, advocates, community leaders and others to address childhood trauma through community-based programs that build resiliency in children and youth by giving them positive role models and opportunities for artistic expression and physical activity.

Based on the experiences of the four programs and a growing body of evidence around brain science, the report identifies the following policy recommendations:

  • Establish regional and/or statewide advisory councils to develop standards and ongoing learning and recommendations around trauma-informed care, culturally responsive care, harm reduction principles, restorative justice practices, and self-care for providers in youth leadership program and service delivery models.
  • Develop legislation to establish mental health hubs, community-based and healing-informed health homes, and Resourced and Resilient zones.
  • Earmark funding streams within already established funds to study and scale non-traditional, culturally-responsive, and community-defined evidence-based mental health programs.
  • Expand funding for train-the-trainer series and service delivery provider (yoga teacher, peer counselor, youth organizers) training programs rooted in social justice, equity, and the arts.
  • Offer generous scholarships to help people of color to become trauma-informed violence prevention and community health workers who reflect the demographics of communities of color and communities experiencing health inequities.
  • Pair healing strategies with workforce development for transitional-aged youth.
  • Pair healing strategies with community building and leadership development for transitional-aged youth.
  • Combine personal healing with civic engagement, where youth lead conversations with policymakers and community members around a shared vision of healing from trauma.
  • Support and protect comprehensive health coverage for children.

You can read the full report by clicking here.

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