Franklin County Cares is a new interagency initiative that supports trauma-informed services and community education.

“We believe trauma-informed care will help build stronger families and stronger communities,” said Emily Thoenen, program lead coordinator with Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri in Union.

Thoenen, who also is a certified trainer through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, is spearheading the initiative, but stressed that Franklin County Cares is not a one-agency mission.

Agencies represented on the newly formed leadership committee include the Franklin County Community Resource Board, Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, Child Advocacy Center, ALIVE, Hope Ranch, Crider, Four Rivers Area YMCA, Franklin County Children’s Division, Franklin County Area United Way, Behavioral Health Response and the Washington, Union, St. Clair and New Haven school districts.

Thoenen said many people don’t realize how trauma can impact both children and adults. She said the more Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, a child has, the more at risk he or she is for negative life outcomes.

“ACEs equal trauma,” she said. “If we can place an emphasis on trauma and offer programs and services to deal with it, the community as a whole benefits.”

Trauma is a broad term, Thoenen said, and includes the more obvious issues of child abuse and neglect, but also homelessness, lack of food, a parent’s death, divorce, a major car accident, natural disasters like the flooding that has occurred in this county, and family substance abuse, violence and/or incarcerations.

Trauma 101

Franklin County Cares will offer free training to community members, including childcare providers, educators and business leaders, to help them identify people who might be dealing with trauma, and then provide assessments and resources to help.

The three-hour training sessions, titled Trauma 101, will be offered this month at Lutheran Family and Children’s Services, 15 S. Oak St., Union, on the following dates:

Tuesday, March 20, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Friday, March 23, from noon to 3 p.m.

Thursday, March 29, from  noon to 3 p.m. and again from 6 to 9 p.m.

Thoenen said trauma-informed care means asking someone what happened to them, instead of what’s wrong with them, along with recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma and then responding by integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices.

An official rollout of Franklin County Cares is planned at the Franklin County Spring Institute April 6, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Union High School. This event is sponsored by the Franklin County Community Resource Board.

Heather Forbes, LCSW, owner of the Beyond Consequences Institute in Boulder, Colo., will be the guest speaker. Forbes has worked in the field of trauma and healing since 1999.

More information on the Franklin County Cares initiative can be found on Facebook and Instagram. People also may contact Thoenen at 314-808-3997.