Six cities were invited to SAMHSA for a listening session to present their innovative approaches to addressing trauma. This blog is part of a series that highlights community approaches in selected implementation domains and how each city is working to create safer and healthier places to live, learn, work and play.
Just knowing that a problem exists – or even being aware of potential solutions - is rarely enough to mobilize a community for action. In Walla Walla, Washington, the has had surprising success in generating community-wide change. They have done this by highlighting the power of collective action and by continually measuring progress towards project goals. The Walla Walla experience demonstrates the value of citizen engagement and evaluation - two of the implementation domains featured in SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach.
The Children’s Resilience Initiative (CRI) is an intensive, structured collaboration with more than 30 community partners, including schools, city government, health and social services, law enforcement, justice, business leaders, the media and parents. They have two main goals – to increase public awareness about the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and to build resilience in the community.
CRI formally launched in 2010. It built on over a decade of neighborhood revitalization, community social events, and citizen-driven development of garden, parks and recreational opportunities. According to Teri Barila, co-founder of CRI, these created a scaffolding on which CRI could be constructed. Earlier involvement had established trust between local residents and community agencies, making it easier to enlist citizen participation in the new initiative. Moreover, because people had already experienced the power of working together, they were able to believe in the possibility of a new future for their community.
CRI’s commitment to data-based decision-making is as strong as their commitment to citizen participation. They use data to show how addressing trauma could improve financial performance. An interactive learning lab calculated the cost of unaddressed Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) to the bottom line of local businesses. They encourage organizations to measure outcomes, and they invite external researchers to conduct more in-depth studies. Evaluation data has helped to establish Lincoln High School as a national model. They collect data on how their work is influencing others. Between 2012 and 2015, the CRI website had almost 21,000 users and 96,000 page views from nine countries.
Most importantly, CRI recognizes that a community change model built on collective action needs to use an evaluation strategy that can measure collective impact. Only continually measuring progress can ensure that the impact reaches as broadly and deeply as desired. While moving to a comprehensive collective impact evaluation model will take time, CRI has moved in this direction by asking agencies participating in CRI’s training of trainers program to use a common agenda, goals and tools to measure impact.
Learn more about Walla Walla and other trauma-informed community efforts in the SAMHSA Spotlight Series. To talk with someone about doing something similar to CRI in your own community, contact Teri Barila.
For more information about SAMHSA’s community trauma initiative, visit the SAMHSA’s Efforts to Address Trauma and Violence webpage.