Community Resources at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland

 Rachel Schutz, Sr. Director of Youth, Family, & Trauma Informed Services, with members of the Boys & Girls Club. Photo credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area

Rachel Schutz, Sr. Director of Youth, Family, & Trauma Informed Services, with members of the Boys & Girls Club. Photo credit: Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metropolitan Area

For my Senior Fellowship with Future Leaders In Action, I am compiling community resources for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Metropolitan Area (BGCP). I’m so excited to be back at the clubs and working with this amazing team again after completing another fellowship with them last summer. I’m writing this article to give an overview of the project I’m working on and what it means to the Clubs.

The Project

 Survey materials for community needs assessment.

Survey materials for community needs assessment.

I am creating a webpage for the Youth & Family Services (YFS) division of BGCP that explains the YFS program and what resources it offers to members and families. The webpage will also have a list of recommended external resources with explanations of what to expect. For example, when calling the 211 information registry, there is a menu of general categories to select from, then callers are transferred to a live person who is eager to help them find the best solutions for the problems they’re trying to solve.

In order to focus the resource directory to the specific needs of each community, I am conducting surveys at each BGCP site to find out what resources families have accessed and what resources people are looking to find. Similar to the general external resources, I’m going to find out what families should expect when trying to access resources at each agency. One of the YFS staff members mentioned that she had referred families to services many times, but sometimes they don’t go to the agencies because they are afraid it will take too long or that they’ll want to collect a high level of personal information which may jeopardize their safety.

Youth & Family Services

Each BGCP non-school site has a YFS staff member, whose job is to address the social and emotional needs of the members and ensures that each site is delivering trauma-informed care (TIC). These staff members often sit at the front desk and are available to assist kids who are dealing with conflict or need emotional support that can’t be met by a staff who is leading group activities. The YFS staff also coordinate club events, such as parent education workshops and monthly Family Nights. These invaluable staff members manage member caseloads, which means they make sure to check in regularly with kids who have high needs, and may even reach out to families as needed.

Recent research has found that 45% of all children in the United States have been exposed to at least one form of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), an indicator of future mental and physical wellness.

Trauma Informed Care

According to the Trauma Informed Care Project, “Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Trauma Informed Care also emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both consumers and providers, and helps survivors rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.”

BGCP’s staff has decided that offering TIC is instrumental to the organization’s mission “to empower all young people, especially those who need us most, to discover their full potential as caring, engaged, responsible community members.” Recent research has found that 45% of all children in the United States have been exposed to at least one form of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), an indicator of future mental and physical wellness. This means that just under half of BGCP members can benefit from the implementation of TIC. The newly appointed Director of Trauma Informed Services, Rachel Schutz, has worked at BGCP for many years and is overseeing my development of the resource tools.

 Rachel speaking to group during FLIA retreat.

Rachel speaking to group during FLIA retreat.

With a degree in Child & Family Studies under my belt, plus some experience in web design and Excel,  I feel equipped to serve BGCP members by creating a resource that is organized, equitable, and trauma-informed. Portland has an enormous amount of social services compared to other parts of the country, so it’s important that the listing is comprehensive, but also easy to use. Hopefully, these tools will be a useful resource to members and staff. Portland residents are lucky to have so many options and places to turn to find resources, but what good are they if people can’t find them, or if they’re hesitant to try accessing them? It’s easy to become overwhelmed, especially when dealing with trauma at any level of severity.