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Our Journey Continues

We’ve spent the last year celebrating our 125th anniversary, honoring our history and roots, acknowledging our struggles, resilience and growth, and reaffirming our priority of meeting the needs of Alaskan youth and families. This long, robust history provides a solid foundation as our journey continues.

It’s been said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Several years ago, AK Child & Family began taking steps towards the implementation of trauma informed care. This initially began with the adoption of models of care such as ARC (Attachment, Self Regulation and Competency), Pressley Ridge, and TIP (Transition to Independence Process). We’ve completed a number of organizational assessments to evaluate how we’re doing on key components. We’ve participated in trainings and technical assistance opportunities in collaboration with national associations. Our agency is an active member of NACBH (National Association for Children's Behavioral Health), with our President & CEO currently serving on the board of directors. Additionally, in 2012 we completed a yearlong learning community on the Adoption of Trauma Informed Approaches through the National Council for Behavioral Health. A few years ago we revised our new hire orientation for direct care staff to include Trauma 101 curriculum.

Our next leg of the journey involves becoming a Sanctuary certified program. “The Sanctuary Model is a blueprint for clinical and organizational change which, at its core, promotes safety and recovery from adversity through the active creation of a trauma informed community. A recognition that trauma is pervasive in the experience of human beings forms the basis for the Sanctuary Model’s focus not only on the people who seek treatment, but equally on the people and systems that provide that treatment. Creating Sanctuary in an organization is not a textbook or manualized protocol, but an organic process that happens over the course of time to move an organization towards creating a trauma informed culture (Sanctuary Institute).”

We are in the very early stages of our certification process (which is anticipated to take 3 or more years). The steering committee has participated in training through the Sanctuary Institute and has recently begun to introduce Sanctuary to everyone at AK Child & Family through a series of informational meetings and activities. Our steering committee members have been asked to share a few words regarding their experiences thus far on the journey towards Sanctuary certification.

Jeannie: “My hope is that the Sanctuary model will continue to help us grow into an organization that strives to provide the best quality care for our youth and families. I know we can do this by focusing on the safety and dignity for everyone involved in care; whether it is the youth and families we provide services to or the staff at AK Child & Family and beyond that contributes to the delivery of those services. The Sanctuary model provides the framework to guide us through these stages of growth.”

Anne: “I feel the timing is right for our organization and eagerly look forward to working with the newly formed Sanctuary Core Implementation Team, a diverse cross section of our organization – with representation from our board of directors, direct and indirect care staff from residential and community programs and treatment foster care parents.”

Denis: “While all of four of these objectives are practiced to a greater or lesser degree thorough out AK Child & Family today. I look forward to the day when we can all work in a place that tirelessly values the physical, emotional, social and moral safety of us all. An organization that always strives towards an understanding of the emotional wellbeing of all involved. A place that understands we all deal with loss in different ways but none the less, acknowledges loss as a part of everyone’s life. Finally, an organization that vigorously pursues a better future for everyone we touch.”

Rachel: “I am looking forward to Sanctuary with its focus on taking care of each other and the kids. It is so easy to lose focus on how we take care of ourselves and each other when we do this work and I am hopeful that the sanctuary model will bring intentionality to how we do self care.”

Fannie: “I am very enthusiastic about the continued idea of positive team growth throughout the agency amongst staff; treatment foster parents children and their bio families.
My experience working with AK Child & Family has allowed me to encourage change by continuously implementing new approaches in serving our youth and their bio families and supportive ways to enhance the already great work of our treatment foster parents and staff.
I look forward to a continuous implementation of AK Child & Family’s Core values along with the principles of Sanctuary to increase the support of a healthy therapeutic environment for staff, youth, bio families and treatment foster parents as we continue to grow.”

Katya: “The experience has been interesting, exciting and challenging for me. Interesting because it is something new to do, learn and teach and challenging because it takes time and lots of feelings. I hope I can sort it all out and fit in well in the sanctuary model without becoming mushy.”

Addy: “In my experience so far with the Sanctuary Model, I feel I’ve been (gently) pushed outside of my comfort zone; the results have been positive & energizing, and I am optimistic that we will work together to shape an environment that is safer, more nurturing & more healing than it has been in the past.”