Partner Spotlight: UCAN

February 10, 2017

Just under half (41%) of children in Illinois have experienced at least one or more traumatic occurrences such as violence, poverty, abuse or neglect. (Child Trends, 2014)

These adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can often lead to many other social, emotional and cognitive impairments. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between childhood trauma and negative health and behavioral outcomes later in life. The good news is that these negative outcomes can be prevented if the child feels protected and is surrounded by adults that can provide strong coping skills and a positive environment.

To create these positive environments is the goal of Bright Promises Foundation’s Promoting Resilience initiative, launched in 2012. Through this initiative, we have partnered with highly effective organizations across the Greater Chicago Metro Area, including the Uhlich Children's Advantage Network (UCAN), to facilitate Trauma-Informed trainings for a diverse group of child-serving agencies.

By healing complex trauma, UCAN reduces youth violence and strengthens families and communities. Bright Promises Foundation has allowed UCAN to share their expertise with other organizations in Chicago’s North Lawndale community for the past four years.

Through the Promoting Resilience initiative, UCAN provided trauma‐informed trainings to six different child-serving organization including Urban Gateways, an arts organization providing high-quality, accessible arts experiences to young people.

After receiving the trauma-informed training, Urban Gateways staff shared their positive experiences with many members of the broader arts community. As a result of their conversations, art‐based organizations that work in schools are now requesting additional trauma-informed training for their staff.

Also, since the training at Urban Gateways has commenced, their teaching artists have better engaged UCAN youth during arts workshops. There is evidence that these teaching artist’s trauma‐informed training informed them on how to respond to traumatized youth in a way that promotes resilience and healthy social and emotional development.

UCAN staff have remarked many times about how their interactions with the community (schools, residents, community organizations) have been informed from these trauma-informed trainings. They have cited times when they have educated parents, teachers, school administrators, probation officers and public defenders about how to recognize symptoms of trauma and have an empathic response to the children and youth of trauma. Program participants have also cited how being trauma‐informed helps them reframe their responses to the trauma reaction behaviors of the youth they serve.

UCAN has reported that, as a result of Bright Promises multi‐year support,  they are much better positioned to be a resource for Chicago organizations serving youth who have been exposed to complex trauma. UCAN’s scope of services and Bright Promises’ investment in these services are truly having a systems impact on Chicago’s community of providers and the youth they serve.