In October of 2012, Brevard Family Partnership began developing a system transformation project that entailed establishing a framework for incorporating trauma-informed care (TIC) across the community of practice. This transformation initiative aims to create and foster broad community awareness and knowledge regarding the impact of trauma on children and families and upon those who serve and care for them.
The framework of this initiative holds that positive youth development is the outcome of a trauma-informed community of practice. Therefore, to improve the quality of life for youth in and aging out of foster care, the local child welfare system of care and its partners must understand the empirical evidence supporting TIC and the proven strategies to mitigate risk and prevent re-traumatization.
BFP is committed to becoming a TIC system. To that end, our goal is to design and provide education, training, and technical assistance to agencies that serve children, youth, and families who have experienced trauma. Over the past three years, we worked to design and launch training opportunities and foster awareness to better understand, apply, and integrate trauma-informed care and positive youth development practices.
The Brevard Youth Leadership Academy was officially launched in October 2017. This exciting and innovative leadership program prepares a core group of youth with leadership capacity to learn the critical skills needed to advocate for themselves and system change effectively. Graduates of the Academy will become the new members of the Brevard Youth Leadership Council. The Leadership Academy will help the Council be an effective vehicle for youth “voice and choice,” impacting foster care policy and practice change.
The program is implemented by the local charitable organization SMILE for Budgie (SMILE) in coordination and support from the Brevard Family Partnership. SMILE provides educational and psycho-social assistance to vulnerable and at-risk youth. All youth deserve the right to access resources and educational opportunities to build and strengthen their skills to reach their full potential. Leadership training contributes to healthy development and well-being and provides practical life skills necessary to function and thrive as an independent adult.
The Academy is a six-month training program that builds skills in the following areas: leadership, communication, team building, problem-solving, decision making, conflict resolution, and organizational development. The Academy utilizes experiential learning methodologies including adventure/recreational, nature-focused/animal-assisted, and creative expression/expressive arts.
The Training Academy is also implemented with technical support from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, helping youth to understand and enhance the following Youth Thrive Promotive and Protective Factors: youth resilience, social connections, knowledge of adolescent development, concrete support in times of need, and cognitive and social-emotional competence. Brevard Youth Thrive works in partnership with the Center for the Study of Social Policy as a pilot site of this program.