The Focus Family Program

Focus Family supports youth and families in the grip of “Trauma” and other risk factors due to the impact of COVID-19 crisis. Focus Family provides intervention services and resources to lead a purposeful life direction from access education or to meaningful enrichment for children and their families, and access to lifelong educational opportunities, regardless of age.

Focus Family involves families who are interested in healing from past traumas and growing as a family. We focus on the strengths and talents within each family and encourages communication within and amongst families.

Trauma Is a Public Health Crisis. The way trauma impacts people in our communities is often misunderstood. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Study suggests that 75% of the population has experienced at least one traumatic event in their life. “Trauma” left unaddressed impacts relationships and is passed on others. Trauma refers to any threatening, overwhelming experiences that we cannot integrate, leaving us with diminished sense of security with others and the world. This program works with low-income youth, many of whom are on free and reduced lunch programs.

Our intergenerational model provides training sessions. It teaches parenting skills, social emotional learning and life skills for youth, and family life skills through trauma-informed training. It promotes communication and supportive relationships. It follows the Sanctuary Model’s research-based SELF Psychoeducational Group Curriculum to help families address problems surrounding trauma and navigate topics of Safety, Emotion, Loss and Future. The Sanctuary Model is a theory-based, trauma informed, evidenced supported model for creating change.

The program aims to improve progression for youth and adults through training with the integration of social emotional learning and trauma-informed care with an explicit focus on equity. By strengthening relationships; developing social emotional learning skills, including cultural fluency; and using restorative preventions, our model creates a positive climate for learning and addresses the root causes of disproportionality. Focus Family delivers the non-clinical preventive services for those with low risk needs.

Trauma is a Public Health Crisis

Trauma is a Public Health Crisis and the next crisis for Coronavirus youth and young adults. The trauma impacts youth because of the transition from classroom to online, distance learning during lockdown and forced isolation.

Recent studies show children and adolescents are more likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as enforced isolation continues.

Many adults are also experiencing negative impacts on their mental health and wellbeing due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. As the pandemic continues, they are facing situations linked to poor mental health outcomes including isolation and job loss.

A rise in demand for mental health services is needed in next few years during this critical time of need as education during COVID-19 is defined. Life Directions programs addresses mental health fallout, and teaches youth and families to overcome obstacles and provide the much needed social emotional learning and trauma-informed care.

Life Directions in Detroit Public School Community District

This crisis has been challenging for teachers who need Life Directions programs to create a reliable learning environment where students who have experienced adversities and trauma have the supports for a positive climate for learning and reducing suspensions. Additionally, disruption to schools caused by the coronavirus pandemic constitutes an emergency that threatens to derail the education with students projected to drop out of school. The longer youth remain out of school, the less likely they are to return.

With the integration of social emotional learning and trauma-informed care through face-to-face and virtual sessions, our model addresses the root cause. It helps educators develop cohesive, supportive school environments and boost students’ long-term success by keeping them in school and engaged in learning.