An Important COVID-19 Pivot to Support Kids and Families

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down, creating not only a health and financial crisis but a mental health one as well.

It is important, especially now, to adopt a trauma-informed approach in responding to this pandemic, civil unrest, loss of home or income, rising rates of child neglect or abuse. While traumatic events can occur at any time in our lives, they have the most damaging and long-lasting effect when they occur during childhood, when the brain, body and sense of the world are being developed.  Most of the social challenges we face as a community — such as homelessness, substance abuse, and violence — are rooted in exposure to childhood trauma. Resilient Lehigh Valley is dedicated to increasing youth resiliency through creating a trauma-informed, culturally responsive and resilient community.

Pre-pandemic, Resilient Lehigh Valley was planning an exciting and informative 2nd annual conference for June 2020, that would include training, networking, and dynamic speakers. When it became obvious that an in-person event was no longer feasible, the staff at Resilient LV knew that the cornerstone of their work – creating trauma-informed organizations – must continue, now more than ever. Reacting quickly and changing course, Resilient LV adjusted their training topics and materials and encouraged potential conference attendees to take part in a series of virtual trainings. 

Within about a month, Resilient LV devised a schedule of topics, convened experts, explored training platforms and offered its first training session on April 29, 2020. The training, entitled “How To Provide Quality Support for Clients Through a Virtual Platform” was specifically created to assist health and human services professionals as well as school staff facing a new, socially distanced reality and rising emotional and mental health concerns among youth.

Resilient LV has hosted several instructional training sessions on a variety of topics, some evergreen and some specifically designed to help navigate a crisis. Each training benefits from a variety of experts from within the coalition. 

Since pivoting to online offerings, Resilient LV has trained 447 educators, social workers, law enforcement, housing and health care professionals on trauma-informed topics.

“We were ready to build on the momentum of our inaugural conference in 2019 and reach even more participants in 2020. Thankfully, with the ease of online communication technology, we were able to make an impact. With the help of coalition partners, I am proud to say that we’ve provided important and necessary education for our community, especially around topics that are extremely relevant to this new reality,” commented Beth Tomlinson, Co-Founder of Resilient Lehigh Valley and Senior Director, Education for United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

Training throughout the summer focused on preparing for the 2020 –  2021 school year, educating staff on the tools to build a trauma-informed school environment, identify and address rising student needs and promote social-emotional learning skill-building, like emotional regulation and mindfulness for both students and staff.

The goal is to offer support and resources for teachers despite what the school may look like,” stated Tomlinson. Recognizing the impact of trauma is only the first of many steps towards healing and building resiliency. Resilient Lehigh Valley is providing the necessary tools and resources to build a more resilient, healthy community.

Those interested in Resilient LV’s trauma-informed trainings should visit here. Trauma and resilience resources can also be found on the website, along with information specific to individual professions, parents and caregivers. 


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