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Community partners learn about trauma, resilience

April 6, 2019 GMT

Every Child Thrives’ journey to make Dodge and Jefferson counties a healthy, resilient community achieved a new milestone recently when partner organizations reported on their implementation of trauma-informed, resilience-oriented approaches at the National Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Approaches Learning Community Summit Meeting.

The summit, attended by Lisa Dunham, Jefferson County licensed clinical social worker, and Kim Melcher, Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation program officer, was the culmination of ECT’s participation in the yearlong Trauma-Informed, Resilience-Oriented Approaches Learning Community, a program of the National Council for Behavioral Health.


The program provided participating organizations with tools and skills they can use in their work to address trauma and nurture resilience, stated a news release from the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation. It also helped the organizations implement a complete trauma-informed and resilience-oriented plan.

“Research shows our interactions with individuals who have had traumatic experiences can either be helpful or harmful,” said Dunham. “When we interact with individuals in a trauma-informed and resilience-oriented way, we are literally creating pathways to healing.”

The GWCHF provided backbone support and funding for eight partner organizations within Dodge and Jefferson counties to participate in the Learning Community. Organizations include Directions Counseling, Dodgeland School District, Hustisford School District, Jefferson County Human Services, School District of Jefferson, Watertown Department of Public Health, Watertown Police Department and Watertown Unified School District.

The release said that the partner organizations have committed to thoroughly implementing trauma-informed practices into their organizations and to leading regional efforts to engage and support additional community partners.

“The Learning Community allowed for the professional development and coaching of these organizations so they could assess where they’re at, identify gaps and make internal policy and process changes that provide for better outcomes for individuals and families,” said Melcher.

In December 2018, ECT hosted a community gathering called Leadership for a Strong, Resilient Community for individuals and organizations to examine the impact of adversity on health, occupational and community outcomes, and subsequently learn the new science of resilience. Since that event, continued the release, over 35 community organizations have embarked on a one-year journey to create a healthy, resilient community by determining their readiness to embed the principles of brain science and resilience into daily practice.


“Our goal at the end of the journey is to be the first two-county community in Wisconsin with more than 20 organizations pledging support of a multi-sector effort to create a strong, resilient community,” said Melcher.

To learn more about becoming involved in this effort, email Sarah Sullivan, GWCHF program officer, at ssullivan@watertownhealthfoundation.com.