Trauma-Informed Services for Youth and Families in New Orleans
Author: Michael Dinh, MD Class of 2020
Mentor(s): Nancy Oriol, MD
PURPOSE: Trauma-informed care is a framework that recognizes the effects that trauma – including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, violence, and neglect – has on an individual’s physical and mental health, ability to seek care, and academic and career success. More broadly, trauma-informed approaches recognize that many in our society have been victims of trauma, and that steps must be taken to ensure their comfort and safety in physical spaces and in interpersonal relationships. Incorporating trauma-informed approaches into the New Orleans Public Library (NOPL) and New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD) – two of the largest citizen-facing agencies in the city – would improve their abilities to reach and improve the lives of youth and families who have been impacted by trauma.
METHODS: This project aims to deliver specific and actionable recommendations to the Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF), NOPL, and NORD to integrate trauma-informed approaches through an internal assessment of the current trauma-informed environment in these agencies, an external assessment of other cities and compilation of best practices, and gap analysis. Surveys were developed to assess current trauma-informed approaches in NOPL, NORD, and external agencies. Pertinent findings are summarized in this report, and were used to make recommendations and implementation guides for the stakeholders.
RESULTS: Many opportunities exist within NOPL and NORD to incorporate a trauma-informed approach. The majority of cities responding did not have trauma-informed approaches integrated into their library and recreation agencies. Baltimore, Denver, Cleveland, San Francisco, and others were identified as national leaders in trauma-informed approaches.
Based on analysis of the unmet needs in New Orleans and of best practices at model programs around the country, four recommendations were made: review and update policies and procedures, train and support staff in trauma-informed approaches, strengthen coordination with community services, and create a welcoming environment. Multiple options and timelines were suggested for implementation of each recommendation.
CONCLUSIONS: The Mayor, agency leaders, and agency staff are invested in incorporating trauma-informed approaches into NOPL and NORD. By doing so, New Orleans can quickly become a national leader in trauma-informed services.