Delaware Public Media

DHSS moves to make staff more trauma-informed

Mar 12, 2018

1,000 staff members with Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services will be trained to be more trauma-informed at Wilmington University.

Employees from the Divisions of State Service Centers, Social Service and Child Support will take a seven month course to better recognize and work with people who suffer from PTSD.

The class is taught by Dr. Debra Berke, the associate professor and director of Wilmington University’s College for Social and Behavioral Sciences. She says childhood trauma can often account for a person’s behavior as an adult.

“The primary lens that we use is not asking someone, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ but finding out ‘What happened to you?’ or, ‘What wasn’t modeled for you growing up?’” said Berke.

Director of the Division of State Service Centers Renee Beaman is spearheading the effort for DHSS. She says her staff are subjected to other people’s trauma on a daily basis, and this class will benefit them and the people they serve.

“So that we can understand better how childhood trauma affects and shapes who we are and allow us to better serve individuals,” said Beaman.

Studies have shown youth in Wilmington have experienced more Adverse Childhood Experiences than the national average.

The class is part of a year-long effort from DHSS to become more trauma informed.