Social service agencies are exposed to a variety of external stressors. Federal and State requirements, provider requirements, fiscal constraints and client family requirements are present and are often in conflict. In addition, the complexity of adolescence is compounded by domestic violence, disorganized and inconsistent family dynamics, and improper use of medications, forced transitions and exposure to multiple traumatic events. This can result in disjointed services, extreme lack of service coordination and high rates of adolescent transience and self injurious behaviors. The MTSN provides a multi-faceted, extremely structured, trauma focused continuum of services for such children and their partner agencies.
Neuro-Developmental - The Child's Brain Architecture
The conditioning of a child's ability to negotiate social situations is complex. Optimally, early childhood is the best time to allow the child to engage in and be challenged by appropriate social events so that their brain architecture is protected in its crucial developmental period. The increased fragmentation of family is having a tremendous impact on social settings as children come into those settings with limited skill sets. This puts an undue burden on the already overwhelmed early education system.
Constantly shifting administrations and funding streams hinder the development of consistent programming and highly skilled caregivers. These types of "social supports" are time and again described in the emerging literature as the necessary components to stabilize our at risk youth populations. Compassionate, energetic caregivers are frustrated by the changes or give up on the systems and move to other more predictable employment.
While an at-risk child profile may develop in any social strata, the vast majority of our clients come from low SES environments. The constant stressors that persistently play out all around them create a conditioned hypervigilance and world view that brings them into conflict with law enforcement and social services.
The toll of environmental stressors on our physical and mental health comes in part from the chemical messaging in our central nervous system. Everywhere a child turns now they can seek out or observe environmental inputs that disrupt the development of strong pro-social ties and thus can encourage behavior patterns that result in unhealthy and risky attachments.
Everything in moderation, we are a consumer nation. The health of our society is tied to consumption and as too many products and producers compete for our resources in financially stressed times we become overwhelmed. This leads to sacrificing long term fiscal health for impulsive short term material acquisition and the creation of multiple social stressors.
The behavior of our at-risk children is most often viewed as something that needs to be controlled instead of re-shaped with understanding and compassion. This population has been repeatedly violated resulting in a complex behavioral picture for which we punish them. The result is a prison system that houses more than 2 million humans at a cost of $44,000 per year per inmate or 88 billion dollars per year (Connecticut). A new minority majority of youth are being incarcerated at an unprecedented rate-today.
A community's ability to thrive and grow is dependent on a stable workforce. A stable workforce requires a solid education, dependability, attachment to landscape, hope, a sense of community and safety. If you looked into most learning environments you are likely to see the disruptions are being caused by a few students in the classroom but the learning is being negatively impacted for the whole classroom. The children who are struggling are quite often misunderstood and unjustly punished, only escalating their behavior and widening the gap between them and society until finally they make a mistake that cannot be undone. This results for many in a lifetime of high social service utilization that takes away social capital and fiscal capital from community growth.
How does one motivate a child to learn academically when they are focused on survival issues? If they don’t know how they will get through the day safely, how do they understand or relate to Mathematics? History? English or language classes? The brain and heart demand resolution of immediate environmental threats. The child who lives in a low income and high threat neighborhood will be conditioned to threat detecting and therefore unable to perceive enough safety in a classroom to calm themselves and to attend academic information. Numerous studies now indicate that 5 out of 20 youth in classrooms today are struggling with these challenges which in turn increase the challenges for the entire learning environment. Trauma Informed Care interventions directed at these populations bring them into the present, teach affect management skills, teach how to be safe and available in the classroom as opposed to distracted and behavioral through social skill development. The classroom is re-established as a place of safety, respect, non-violence and engaged learning.