Thought leaders from across Texas gathered at DePelchin in September for the inaugural DePelchin Trauma-Informed Care Conference, a two-day event designed to drive dialogue about the need for mental health care reform within the field of child welfare services.  Nearly 200 child welfare professionals from 11 regions participated in the conference, which was co-sponsored by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and Bo’s Place.  The conference featured local and national experts on trauma-informed care, including Judge John Specia, commissioner for DFPS; David Harmon, chief medical director for Superior HealthPlan; and David Cross, co-developer of Trust-Based Relational Intervention, a model of trauma-informed care.

The practice of trauma-informed care grew out of studies conducted over the last two decades that showed that traditional models of care — which often included punitive methods — largely failed to produce positive outcomes.  Today, evidence continues to build for a reformed approach to caring for children who have experienced relational trauma.

“Recent studies reveal that healing from trauma is based upon connection and positive relationships, which create an intrinsic motivation to behave in a way that leads to success,” says Corrine Walijarvi, director of strategic planning at DePelchin and the coordinator for the conference.

Along with furthering the discussion on trauma-informed care, the conference also served as the launching event for DePelchin’s Maconda Brown O’Connor Training Institute, established through a gift from the Brown Foundation, Inc. in memory of Houston social worker and philanthropist Dr. Maconda Brown O’Connor.  Honoring Dr. O’Connor’s work and legacy, the Institute aims to advance the professional knowledge of the latest, evidence-based, trauma-informed research and practices for supporting children and the families who care for them.

“We are grateful to the Brown Foundation for their gift toward the Training Institute and its mission,” says Jenifer Jarriel, DePelchin president and CEO.  “Our inaugural trauma-informed care conference highlighted the impact that the Training Institute can have by providing a forum for discussion and learning about topics central to children’s mental health and well-being.”