Philosophy of Care
Somerset Home service is based on a philosophy of Positive Youth Development. Adopted in 2000, this approach:
- focuses on the development of the individual and family preservation
- emphasizes ensuring each young person is supported in developing a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging, and power
- helps young people achieve their full potential and prevents them from engaging in risky behaviors by strengthening protective factors.
Some of the ways young people at Somerset Home experience positive youth development and strengthen protective factors are:
- Exercising leadership by participating on the Youth Advisory Board (created by the state child welfare agency to get input from youth on issues and policies that affect them, such as aging out and independent-living initiatives);
- Influencing their own care by sitting on agency committees focused on improving staff interaction, client care and professional services;
- Participating in interviewing prospective staff members. This concept was developed by youth members of the staff/volunteer training and development committee. Youth who provide input into new staff selection report a greater feeling of responsibility for treating new staff with respect. Also, new staff get a sense of the importance of each youth’s input into the program, and understand they are expected to treat each youth with the utmost respect, which provides staff with the first glimpse of trauma-informed care philosophy;
- Participating in the development of their treatment plan along with their case manager and guardian;
- Volunteering in the community (service learning) at places like the animal shelter and food bank.
Protective factors are built by
- Ensuring the basic needs of participants are taken care of first – food, clothing, shelter and any other support necessary to abate the youth’s initial crisis;
- Improving the behavioral, psychological, and physical health care needs of participants;
- Providing educational supports and, when appropriate, employment support;
- Focusing on reuniting youth with family or finding alterative, safe living accommodations.
Somerset Home programs focus on helping youth develop skills that enable them to avoid problem behaviors. This includes developing their cognitive skills, their ability to communicate effectively, and their ability to negotiate resisting problem behavior.
The traumatic experiences our participants have endured often result in negative patterns of thinking that can be an obstacle to their ability to trust staff and accept help. Traumatized individuals may fear being harmed by others, blame themselves for the trauma, suffer from low self-esteem or shame), and feel helplessness and hopelessness about their future. It is the staff’s job to develop a trusting relationship with each youth and offer nonjudgmental and consistent support. When this happens, staff are more likely to be seen as trustworthy, and a cooperative relationship can form, creating the possibility for healing to begin.