Alums Become Trauma-Informed Champs

The three Wilmington University alums didn’t know what to expect when they were invited to participate in Trauma-informed Approach (TIA) training last year.

Aruku Davis
Aruku Davis

The three Wilmington University alums didn’t know what to expect when they were invited to participate in Trauma-informed Approach (TIA) training last year. But Cheri Pyne, social worker and case manager supervisor at Delaware’s Division of Social Services, Aruku Davis, grant diversion manager at the State Division of Public Health, and Julie Edwards, social services administrator at the State Division of Child Support Services, soon found out.

Julie Edwards
Julie Edwards

Trauma-informed training deals with understanding, recognizing, and responding to all types of trauma. Trauma-informed champions bring information, resources and skills to others to continue the trauma-informed change process for overall sustainability.

The story begins in the summer of 2017, with collaboration between WilmU and Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) under the leadership of Psychology Program Director Dr. Debra Berke and Renee Beaman, director of the Delaware Division of State Service Centers. WilmU would offer training based on three key courses within the undergraduate Trauma-informed Approaches certificate — in which 88 students are now enrolled — to a select group of state employees in a train-the-trainer format.

Cheri Pyne
Cheri Pyne

In January of 2018, 24 DHSS employees, including Davis, Edwards and Pyne, began a nine-week, 54-hour, face-to-face or online learning experience to become trauma-informed and build the capacity of other state employees to be trauma-informed. They had trained nearly 1,000 state employees by December of 2018.

It took time for coworkers to become engaged and participate in group discussions. “They were able to correlate the training with real-life situations that they’ve encountered,” says Davis. When Edwards embraced the challenging material, she realized she had become part of a national movement.

On Oct. 17, 2018, Delaware Gov. John Carney announced via Executive Order Number 24, that “All state agencies that provide services for children and adults shall integrate trauma-informed best practices.”

This is not just an Executive Order. This is life-changing.
—Marilyn Siebold