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ACEs Symposium topic: ‘Who’s helping the helpers?’

On the agenda: Vicarious staff trauma, CDC perspectives, 2-generational approaches

2016 ACEs Symposium LogoA“To promote an environment where traumatized youth can thrive, staff caregivers must first ‘put the oxygen mask on themselves’ before they can ‘save the youth,'” said Dina McManus, LaSalle’sIMG_7482 Associate Clinical Director.

On April 12th, McManus and Camela Steinke, Ph.D, LaSalle’s Program Assessment and Effectiveness Research Specialist, will present at The Third Annual Capital Region Symposium on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). They will discuss trauma informed care and how the vicarious nature of a youth’s first-hand trauma affects staff charged with caring for them in childcare settings.

In their presentation entitled Who’s Helping the Helpers?, McManus and Steinke will focus on how LaSalle School is moving forward to incorporate trauma informed care in all aspects of the agency, share what has worked, what hasn’t, and ideas for moving forward. The presentation is expected to discuss workplace trauma, self-care, and methods to ensure that staff feel supported and safe day-to-day as well as risks associated with staff turnover, burnout, and compassion fatigue.

“At LaSalle, we try to provide support and training to prepare staff up front for what they will see in their work,” said Dr. Steinke. “But there is Cam Steinke headshotno way to train for all situations, especially when we consider the trauma history of workers and their potential triggers.” Staff read and hear about the horrific and traumatic events that happened to the youth they work with prior to meeting them, and this trauma is not limited to direct care or front line staff. All staff working with these youth, from cafeteria workers to custodial staff, from line workers to administrators, have the potential for traumatic experiences while at work. Whether they realize it or not, all of these things impact both their professional and personal lives on a regular basis.

“Staff are trained to understand how trauma affects how a youth behaves and are expected to address aggressive and acting out behavior through a trauma lens,” said McManus. “However, it is vital that we are cognizant of the impact of these behaviors and create an environment where staff feel comfortable expressing their feelings, concerns, and reactions.”

For sure, the material that McManus and Steinke will present will hit home with many in the audience. “In a trauma informed agency, we believe it is no longer a question of how can we afford to support staff,” said Dr. Steinke. “The more important question becomes how can we afford not to?”

Registration for the 2016 ACEs Symposium opens in February. More details about the day-long symposium can be found at

LaSalle School is a leader in programs and services for youth and families in crisis offering a variety of programs designed to meet their needs including specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services. The Counseling Center at LaSalle is an OMH and OASAS licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic located at LaSalle School, and currently implementing ACE treatment practices with youth and families. LaSalle is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), and affiliated with the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), and the national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

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