Dear Friends of SaintA:
In 2016, SaintA continued to strengthen and expand programs and broaden our focus on the community at large.
It was a year of innovation.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), SaintA recently concluded a three-year, process-driven research project on trauma informed care (TIC) in the child welfare system.
The research was groundbreaking and the findings, which were independently reviewed by the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, are significant.
When the TIC process is followed, research showed an improvement in both placement and permanency, which means children’s living arrangement are more stable when placed in out of home care and children reach permanent living arrangements more quickly. There is also evidence that trauma symptoms improve for children when TIC is utilized.
Throughout 2016, SaintA had the honor of presenting these findings both nationally and internationally to help continue the momentum of trauma informed care as a best practice in child welfare.
SaintA launched Train the Trainer (TTT) for trauma informed care and trauma sensitive schools. Guided by our 7 Essential Ingredients, and along with our full training curriculum, TTT ensures trauma informed care practices reach individuals and organizations that can help combat the public health crisis of childhood trauma.
It was a year of outreach.
Through Community Outreach, we solidified partnerships with community resources for education, employment, health, housing and caring connections. In our role as conduit, we connect clients with resources they may not have accessed otherwise. We also expanded the initiative’s reach to our closest neighbor and trauma-sensitive charter school partner, Capitol West Academy.
Also in 2016, we refocused our youth-aging-out resources to encompass teens as young as age 14. Many education, health, housing and employment services were previously geared to providing a safety net to 18-24 year olds. In this new model, youth build skills that will help them meet the challenges of adulthood long before they reach age 18.
It was year of results.
The SaintA Treatment Foster Care (TFC) program, which finds homes for children who have experienced significant trauma, finished its second year with impressive growth in 2016. Serving Southeast Wisconsin, as well as Central and Western Wisconsin, TFC increased the number of licensed homes to serve more children in need.
The number of licensed TFC parents grew by nearly 20% (18.5% net gain). This is especially important to see in rural areas, where the distance between a child’s home community and placement can sometimes be geographically significant. More licensed homes equal more chances for kids to be placed nearby.
In spring of 2016, we completed our first two years of a highly specialized therapy called Functional Family Therapy (FFT). It’s aimed at reducing recidivism in youth offenders and breaking the cycle of emotional and behavioral issues within Milwaukee families.
- 98% of the youth who completed the FFT program remained living at home at the time of discharge.
- 98% of youth who completed the program were also enrolled in some type of educational or vocational programming at the time of discharge.
- 82% of youth who completed the program have not had any new offenses or re-offenses.
- 91% of siblings of the target youth have not had any new offenses or re-offenses.
SaintA continues to be committed to instituting agency-wide training in de-escalation and no-holds skills. In 2016, we implemented Mandt, an integrated approach to preventing, de-escalating, and intervening when an individual poses a threat of harm to themselves or others. The agency carefully chose this model because it is aligned with the principles of trauma informed care.
Direct service, leadership, and administrative staff must all be Mandt trained, and the biggest results can be seen in Residential Treatment.
Capitol West Academy was once again recognized for its Promising Practices and saw a marked improvement in its Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Report Card. The school continues to help students build character, along with academic achievement.
It was a year of celebrations.
Thomas and Lillian Rivera have had eight placements in about five years, including several children with special needs. They currently have 3 adopted children and one foster child, a 5-year old boy on the autism spectrum.
In addition to providing structure, routine and stellar communication, Thomas and Lillian know how to identify triggers and minimize behavior. That’s thanks in part to the training they have received in trauma informed care.
Scot and Mya Yohr had already adopted 3 children, including a sibling set of two boys, by the time a sibling group of two girls were placed with them in early 2016. Although they had planned to close their license after their first three adoptions, they remained open for emergency placements.
It was then that the Yohrs met the two young sisters. One girl was ultimately moved to a treatment foster care home, and the other stayed in the Yohr’s care and was eventually adopted.
But the adoptions are only part of the Yohr’s story. They are also great examples of relationship building with biological parents. The boys’ father is grateful to Scot and Mya for maintaining contact so he can still have a relationship with his kids.
Similarly, the girl’s mother has said she is thankful for the Yohrs because they were a role model and support system for her as well as her daughter.
It’s these stories, along with others too numerous to name, that fuel our work in foster care, adoption, and next-generation care models such as Fostering Relationships.
It was a year of advancing knowledge.
SaintA was honored to be invited to review a paper entitled “Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems,” published by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The 18-page paper was aimed at everyone with an interest in child welfare, including legislators and system leaders, attorneys and judges, front-line social workers, and parents.
In spring of 2016, SaintA hosted “Childhood Adversity & Poverty: Creating a Collaborative Response,” co-sponsored by the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the Center for the Study of Social Policy.
Dr. Roy Wade of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia delivered a keynote on Urban ACEs, which are an expanded set of adversities common in cities like Philly and Milwaukee.
As you can see, our achievements were many. But your continued involvement is vital to us. We thank you for your support of our mission, and we look forward to working with you for many years to come.
Teri Zywicki, President, CEO Brian Pier, Board Chair