News 2012

Good Shepherd Services is Sanctuary Certified!

In June, Good Shepherd Services' implementation of the Sanctuary Model was evaluated by representatives from The Sanctuary Institute. The evaluation conducted over two days included interviews, program observations and document review focused on residential and family foster care programs as well as some of our community-based programs. After several weeks, the evaluators released a report in early July awarding certification to the programs for successful implementation.


"As a result of a four year process, and with the wonderful leadership of Lina Pasquale, Debbie Fernandez and Sarah Herlihy, as well as our dedicated Sanctuary Core Team and Steering Committee, I am thrilled that many of our programs have been officially Sanctuary certified!" says Executive Director Sr. Paulette LoMonaco.


The model, originally developed for use in adult inpatient psychiatric settings, has since been adapted for use in other environments including group homes for children and adolescents, is based on theories of trauma and attachment. A trauma-informed method for creating organizational change and providing more comprehensive client care, Sanctuary consists of two key components: the creation of a therapeutic environment designed to help people develop healthy attachments; and psycho-education geared toward emotional, social, cognitive and behavioral recovery from trauma.


"We noticed a change in the population we served especially in terms of an increase in the level aggression and the high incidents of traumatic experiences they faced in their lives," says Assistant Executive Director Denise Hinds, who oversees the agency's residential programs. "We felt that youth development alone was not enough of a tool to address their needs."


The organization began researching alternative models and visiting other agencies to observe the models in action. A visit to the Jewish Child Care Association's Pleasantville Cottage School in Westchester was a chance to see Sanctuary first-hand.  After the visit, the agency decided to pursue the Sanctuary model for two reasons: at JCCA, Sanctuary was successful in serving a similar population and complemented  Good Shepherd Services' existing youth development approach.


"Sanctuary is an opportunity for the organization, our staff and young people to identify a common language and way of working with one another through a lens of trauma," says Denise.


The certification report praised staff use of trauma-informed language such as "what happened to you rather than what's wrong with you?" and the team's commitment to providing a trauma-informed environment through the abundance of Sanctuary artifacts - posters, bulletin boards and pamphlets. The evaluators were most impressed by the continuity and seamless integration of the model throughout the agency stating: "Clearly, the practice of Sanctuary permeates all facets of the organization, from administration to program areas, residential and community."


For us at Good Shepherd Services, the Sanctuary Certification process affirms our commitment to ensure fidelity to the Sanctuary Model and meet the standard of providing a safe, secure and developmental appropriate environment in which participants and staff will recover and thrive. 


Good Shepherd Services joins 175 other organizations that have received Sanctuary certification and is now part the Sanctuary Network, a community of organizations committed to developing trauma-informed services.


August 1, 2012

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