• Willmar Area Women's Fund

Expanding into Trauma Informed Care Training & Awareness: An Update

“It’s important to create a space to talk about trauma and invite people in.”
- Londa Burns, Restorative Justice Coordinator

The Women's Fund continues to focus on sexual exploitation in our region, as we have for several years. We’ve invested over $300,000 in prevention, early intervention and intervention work to benefit Kandiyohi County. While this effort continues, we also realized there was a need to expand the circle of professionals within our area that understand trauma and its implications for those affected within community contexts.


We decided to expand our reach to include trauma informed care training and awareness building efforts in Kandiyohi County to organizations serving youth, adults and families. This expansion involved awarding $19,300 in grant dollars to four local organizations. This past March, our trauma informed care grantees updated us on the impact they have been able to make because of these grants.


Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office (Victim Services)

The Victim Services office used their grant dollars to train staff and attorneys in trauma specific cases. This trauma-informed care training is the beginning of their plan to instigate a shift in their office culture to focus on discussions around the impact of trauma both on victims and their advocates.


The Kandiyohi County Health & Human Services & PACT 4 Families Collaborative

These two organizations partnered up to host two community-wide trainings with 240 participants. The trauma-based, relational-intervention program was so popular that they continue to see requests for another session. These two partners also provided training for school-based staff. They hope to expand their trauma-informed care training to encompass even more professionals who interact with youth.


Safe Avenues

With their $5,000 grant, Safe Avenues brought in training for their staff. The training involved staff and focused on mental health first aid for advocates as well training on how to recognize and respond to someone who is suicidal.


Safe Avenues also offered a parenting curriculum that focused on providing parenting skills for parents who had their children removed from their home. They see an average of 800 families per year in this program, creating quite an impact on parents and children facing separation.


Next Steps

Our partners see a lot of intersectionality in the areas of homelessness, drug/alcohol rehab, fund insecurity, mental health, poverty, sexual assault, domestic violence, access to legal aid services, and sexual exploitation as they assist victims. As Jen Johnson, Executive Director of Safe Avenues, says: “We can’t just solve only one of these problems and expect everything to be better. We must commit to long-term funding in the community.”


The Women’s Fund continues to be inspired to look more into prevention. “How do we prevent our kids, our neighbors, our friends, from experiencing one or all of these intersectional factors?” asks the Willmar Area Community Foundation’s (WACF) Executive Director, Sara Carlson, comparing this prevention approach to seeing a child struggling in a river. Rather than waiting downstream to lift the child out of the water, we must start upstream and keep them from ever falling in it in the first place.


We know there are definite gaps for women and youth here in our area. We are committed to funding the work that needs to be done. It’s a matter of ‘going upstream’ to find the root causes of what’s putting our kids in danger. Effective and early interventions can improve outcomes for our youth and we see this work being done with our trauma informed care grants.


Please continue to follow us to stay informed on our plan to meet kids ‘upstream’ and help them have happier, healthier lives without trauma.

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