BELGIUM – April 13 2022 “Safe Places, Thriving Children” prepares to present key findings Many children and young people in alternative care have experienced trauma prior to their alternative care placement. 75% of children and young people in alternative care have experienced trauma prior to their alternative care placement. Despite these common experiences, care professionals are often unequipped in how to care for children and young people who have suffered trauma. The project “Safe Places, Thriving Children: Embedding Trauma-Informed Practices into Alternative Care Settings” provides care professionals the tools and knowledge they need to address the needs of children and young people affected by trauma. After two years, the final event of the project on May 2 in Brussels will present key findings and recommendations to policy makers, child protection organizations and professionals that care for and work with children in alternative care. Find more information on the final project event in Brussels at this link. To attend the event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by April 18, 2022. There are a limited number of places left, and these places will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no participation fee, but attendees not based in Brussels will be required to pay for their own travel costs and accommodation. “In my training, I was never told how childhood trauma has an impact on the child’s development and adult life,” says a care professional who participated in the project Children in alternative care need care professionals with the skills, knowledge and experience related to their psychosocial and mental health to build trust and strong, caring relationships and help them overcome their negative experiences. In Brussels, young people will address the need to build the capacity of professionals to be more trauma-sensitive. They will raise awareness of changes needed at a policy and practice level to mainstream trauma-informed care practices into child protection systems, as well as present the trauma-informed practices training and other interventions developed in the project. In the project “Safe Places, Thriving Children,” SOS Children’s Villages collaborated with partners to develop and deliver training for care professionals. Additionally, the project offers support to alternative care organizations to embed trauma-informed practices into their daily work, and elaborate policy recommendations to help ensure that child protection systems support children and young people who have been affected by trauma. The two-year project (2020-2022), co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) Program of the European Union, is run in cooperation with SOS Children’s Villages’ member associations from Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia, as well as experts from the Center for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS) of the University of Strathclyde. It primarily targets professionals working with children and young people without parental care but also involves professionals from diverse sectors to share working practices and establish understanding between services in order to improve the quality of care on a broader scale. What is trauma-informed care? Trauma-informed care recognizes trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role trauma may play in an individual’s life, including children, young people and staff. Trauma-informed care requires everyone to make a paradigm shift from asking, “What is wrong with this person?” to “What has happened to this person?” At any point, the physical, psychological and emotional safety for both children and caregivers is ensured, and care is set up in a way that helps children rebuild a sense of control and empowers them to be active in their recovery process. In order to guarantee this, we need to integrate knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices and in the way we provide services. Key project activities The "Safe Places, Thriving Children" project imparts knowledge and methods on several levels: An e-learning program reaches more than 1,000 professionals from the social, educational, health and justice sectors to equip them to better understand and identify adverse childhood experiences and their impact on the development of children. Face-to-face trainings offered over 500 professionals in the target countries the skills to implement a trauma-informed approach in their work with children and young people in alternative care. These trainings were based on the Practice Guidance document which was developed in the frame of the project. Organizational development workshops helped to embed trauma-informed care practices in 20 selected programs and organizations providing alternative care and support to children and young people without parental care in order to make a sustainable systemic change in those organizations. Policy recommendations encouraged the commitment of public authorities in supporting and implementing trauma-informed care practices on a national level. The adoption of these policy recommendations can have an impact on the well-being of 40,000 children living in alternative care. “We need help, not punishment” “Our behavior is a normal reaction to an abnormal experience.” This quote was developed by young people with care experience An attitude that all project participants have internalized is that it is essential to listen to young people with care experience, to find out what they need and combine this information with research findings. Trauma recovery should be a partnership and is only possible within caring relationships. From the beginning, young people with care experience have been seen as important partners and have contributed to the project, i.e. as co-trainers. In fact, young people’s inputs were one of the most informative parts of the training, as this quote of a training participant shows: “We could get a first-hand account of what it has been like for them to grow up in alternative care. We could learn a lot from them. It touched me deeply." The key messages the young experts have developed show that, indeed, they have a lot to share. To mention just a few: “We need help, not punishment.” “The greatest work results should come from your heart, not from your salary.” “It is important to teach me how to love in a correct and safe way.” “All homes should feel like home.” Outcomes and resources “I will pass on this knowledge whenever I have the chance,” says one training participant. The knowledge transfer thus continues: on the one hand through the participants in the various countries, on the other hand through the closing event in Brussels. More information and access to the materials developed within the project can be found here on the “Safe Places, Thriving Children” webpage: https://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/trauma-informed-practices "Safe Places, Thriving Children" Final Project Publication Find more information on the final project event in Brussels at this link. To attend the event, please contact email@example.com by April 18, 2022. There are a limited number of places left, and these places will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no participation fee, but attendees not based in Brussels will be required to pay for their own travel costs and accommodation.