Hoyleton became a certified CARE agency in May of 2022. There are only 13 social services agencies in the world and only 10 in the United States, who have this certification. Hoyleton was certified by Cornell University who recognizes that Hoyleton met the Residential Child Care Project’s highest standard for implementation of the Child and Residential Experiences (CARE) program model. This trauma-informed, principle-based program model represents a new approach for residential child and youth care work.
An agency-wide celebration was held on Friday, June 24th to recognize the achievement. Members of the Care team from Cornell University were also there to help celebrate. During the event Jenifer Cox, Director of Information Systems and Performance Development, walked everyone back through the six-year process of implementing the CARE model. Several staff members shared their experience and memories of what it was like working through the changes of a new program model. Rachelle Dunahee remembers that before CARE there were an endless number of rules that had to be memorized and followed by staff and clients in residential treatment. The new CARE program model eliminated most of those rules as we were able to evaluate and determine what worked best for each client, family member, co-worker or situation on an individual basis without restrictions.
Training for the CARE program model was extensive and time consuming and many of the changes took time but seemed to fall into place organically as staff bought into the principles and program. So much so that a confinement area in the basement of the administration building, referred to as “The Blue Room,” which had been used for years as a way to keep children safe, was determined no longer needed. Hoyleton residential staff removed the door of the blue room in October of 2018 and recognized how far they had come.
Monte Mister, Director of Residential Services, said he can’t believe there was a time when they were putting youth, who had already been through trauma, in an isolated space like that during their time of crisis. “CARE has taught us so much and we are better for it,” he added.
Kaitlin Kent and Ashley Duffie, members of the Clinical Department, spoke about establishing the Sharing is CARE’ing monthly meetings. These meetings are open to anyone in the agency who may have experienced secondary trauma or is in the midst of a personal challenging chapter in life. The meeting is the opportunity to spend time reflecting on experiences with one another in a safe and supportive environment. “I feel better after sharing as it reminds me I am not alone,” said one member of the Hoyleton staff.
When the CARE program model was adopted back in 2017, no one realized the evolution the entire agency would experience as a result of implementing its core principles. Hoyleton embraced the knowledge, research and rationale of CARE and as staff implemented changes based on the six core principles of the program they realized the benefits spoke to everyone at every level of the organization, not just direct care staff in the residential program. “The work we have done to get to this point has changed the way we engage in our work and will determine where we are able to go tomorrow,” said Chris Cox, Hoyleton President and CEO.
“History is who we are and why we are the way we are,” said author and historian David McCullough. Recognizing and understanding individual beliefs and experiences is the foundation for the changes we implemented at Hoyleton as a result of the CARE model. We, as an agency, learned the need to understand one another through individual lenses. We all have different beliefs, life experiences and thought processes which contribute to very individualized reactions or decision-making. The CARE model provided the tools needed to step back and evaluate challenges in youth care which led to better decisions, processes and results. We eliminated long standing fast rules and regulations and explored the “why” and “how” in each situation. By utilizing the six core principles identified in the CARE model which are; developmentally focused, family involved, relationship based, trauma informed, competence centered, ecologically oriented we were able to understand why a certain behavior was happening as well as how can we change the situation to improve the outcome.
A person looking through the CARE lens asks, “is this person willing and able to proceed with what is needed?” If the answer is yes then you move forward as planned but if they are not willing and/or not able a variety of steps can be taken to modify the task as well as the goal to get to a better outcome. Results from this process have been so favorable that the principles were applied at every level at Hoyleton.
The CARE model has not only guided our interactions with clients, their families and our staff but it has shaped our administrative processes. The CARE model provided us with common-language to address challenges and become the foundation for our continued growth as a human services agency. We are so committed to the mindset of this program that the CARE model is introduced to potential employees during the interview process and is utilized during staff supervision and employee evaluations. Our new hire onboarding process includes three days of CARE training to ensure the newest members of our organization understand the CARE model, its purpose and the importance of it.
We are now a certified CARE agency with educated confident staff members who step out into the communities we serve and say, “what is my role and how can I make a difference?” We are equipped with proven effective tools and knowledge to continue our mission of enabling all people to realize the wholeness of life that God intends.
Click here to view CARE Certification Letter.