Linda Daugaard Discusses Trauma-Informed Care

Posted by Samantha Dlugosh on

Nearly half of the nation's youth report having experienced at least one traumatic event.

South Dakota First Lady Linda Daugaard recently participated in a national town hall on helping children who experience trauma. She took the stage to talk about efforts in the state to recruit foster parents and promote trauma-informed care. She also received a recognition award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for her work in the state. This conversation has been edited for web use, to listen to it in its entirety click here.

Lori Walsh:                           

Welcome to In The Moment I'm Lori Walsh. Nearly half of the nation's youth report having experienced at least one traumatic event. South Dakota first lady Linda Daugaard recently participated in a national town hall on helping children who experience trauma. She took the stage to talk about efforts in the state to recruit foster parents, and promote trauma informed care. She also received a recognition award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for her work in the state. Linda Daugaard joins us now on the phone. Welcome back to the program. Thanks for being here.

Linda Daugaard:               

Oh you're welcome Lori, thank you for inviting me.

Lori Walsh:                           

I have to say I went to the website to look at the town hall, and first was going to scroll ahead to your part of it, but it was so fascinating to listen to all the speakers, that I ended up spending a lot more time listening to what was happening in the content of the town hall. Were you present for the entire meeting? Were you there in the audience?

Linda Daugaard:               

Yes I was. We started that day at about 3:00 going through the program, and then hosted people at 5:30, then that day for a reception and talked about what they were involved in through the United Sates, and then we're there for the whole town hall.

Lori Walsh:                           

And where was this at? And what city was it held in?

Linda Daugaard:               

This was at George Washington University.

Lori Walsh:                           

Tell me about the recognition that you received on stage there for your work in South Dakota.

Linda Daugaard:               

Well it was very humbling. It was presented by the secretary of HHS. Secretary Azar, and he by the way said that my husband owed him a hunting trip out here in South Dakota. As he was handing me the award he vented back. But anyway, the secretary was there, and the award is for the work of 18 first spouses on trauma informed care, and the mental health of all our children. It was very nice to be included in that group.

Lori Walsh:                           

And you will be an honorary chairperson, and I'm wondering ... What are your responsibilities going forward, now? Or how does that work?

Linda Daugaard:               

I'm only here until the end of the year. Promoting foster cares within South Dakota, and right now we have exciting news as well. Children's Home Society in partnership with The Center of The Prevention for Child Maltreatment at USD, University of South Dakota. Brought in, in January of this year ... A gentleman by the name of Rob Anda, and his cohort Laura Porter, and trained 26 master trainers in South Dakota in ACES, which is the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, and these 26 people within South Dakota now have gone out and have offered over 58 community trainings within South Dakota to understand this, and they in turn have spread the news to over 1500 people within South Dakota. I can see this thing just going and going, which it should be doing. Education people about trauma informed care within South Dakota, and kind of changing the whole culture of making healthier children within South Dakota. It is a great movement that's happening, and I'm sure we'll just continue to hear more and more about it.

Lori Walsh:                           

Not to editorialize, but I feel like there was room for round of applause there. For you getting that work done.

Linda Daugaard:               

No, not for me at all.

Lori Walsh:                           

For the team, yeah.

Linda Daugaard:               

We have people that are just committed to this, and will continue the mission as well as I to, even after I leave.

Lori Walsh:                           

Let's talk about trauma informed care so our listeners can understand what exactly that means. First of all, how prevalent is it that children actually have a traumatic event, is it really as high as the statistics indicate? At least half?

Linda Daugaard:               

Well it's interesting. Not just children, but adults too. If you're in line at Walmart, and somebody is just having a bad day, you have to wonder what happened before, or what is going on their life. And it's kind of highlighting what people have gone through, or are going through, as well as children. Some of the ACES that they talked about. Adverse Childhood Experiences, are abusive behavior from parent or caretakers. Exposure to domestic violence. The death of a parent, or the incarceration of a parent. Separation from loved ones. Serious illness. Going into foster care, is trauma as well. And caretakers suffering from mental illness, or substance abuse are pretty prevalent too. You take any of those behaviors, and a child may act out with nightmares, or regressive behavior, depression. And it's so important if a child is in foster care to rethink child development. To understand what trauma the child has gone through. How it impacts their behavior, and then how to respond to it, and then kind of form a cocoon around that child so that everyone is aware of what's going on with the child, and how to best handle that child.

Lori Walsh:                           

Flows out into a doctor's appointment, a problem in the classroom, a visit to a counselor you know, any kind of behavioral, or health issues. It's wide reaching in the sense of the number of people that might come in contact with a child in this example, and have to sort of think about what trauma informed care is. Do I understand it correctly?

Linda Daugaard:               

Yes. And some places, you mentioned the clinic or doctor's office. Some of them have completely changed how they welcome a patient to the clinic or whatever, and other people within the clinic. They've changed the whole atmosphere of that. They've changed city government, so that they're more welcoming to people. Understanding maybe they can't pay for heat and electricity this month. How can they help that person? It has been a huge change throughout the United States.

Lori Walsh:                           

As you have learned more and more personally. Not only from what efforts are being made in the state, but ... About the psychology of this, and the science of this, and the cultural impact of this. What has really resonated with you, or surprised you about it?

Linda Daugaard:               

That it always existed, and I guess I was aware of it, but ... Not as aware as I should've been of it.

Lori Walsh:                           

When we were kids, either ourselves or the children next to us were ... Maybe the statistics were the same, and it just really wasn't even part of a teacher's, or a doctor's, or a social worker's awareness. Maybe a social worker, but beyond that maybe no one else?

Linda Daugaard:               

I just think of growing up in our neighborhood you know, and I know some children may of been struck by their parents, or abused, but it was kind of like we picked them up and we all helped each other.

Lori Walsh:                          

What speakers at this town hall, because I mentioned at the beginning of our talk that ... I had a hard time even turning it off, and you wouldn't think this would be such a gripping webcast, but it was. It was rich, and informative, and mind expanding. As you were sitting there and listening to some of the speakers, who were some of the folks, or what was some of the content that really gripped you?

Linda Daugaard:               

Well the military aspect was one that I hadn't thought much about. How children are separated from one, or sometimes both of their parents. And how that affects them, and maybe seeing clips on TV and thinking, "Oh mom and dad are part of that violence, or that explosion," or whatever. And just the trauma that, that would bring that child. And then to have them come home, or have them leave two, three, four deployments. And those speakers were very powerful, and how they're working with all veterans on trauma informed care with them.

Lori Walsh:                           

What does that look like in South Dakota then? When we think about our own National Guard families, and the impact of any kind of deployment on the kids and the family members?

Linda Daugaard:               

I know with our ...At the state level our Veterans Affairs is reaching out to every veteran, and talking to them about their mental health, and the services that are available within South Dakota. And everything kind of boils down to education. Did you know about this program? We can help you with this. We can help you with that. And I think that's the whole model with trauma informed care too is, that we have to keep spreading the knowledge of it, and how we can help people, and how we can become healthier communities, healthier schools, and healthier people all together.

Lori Walsh:                           

Some evidence that even the opioid crisis is largely influenced by trauma, and lots of other things that tie back to trauma in childhood.

Linda Daugaard:               

Oh exactly. Yeah drugs. Yeah that’s a big factor, and a big eye opener lately.

Lori Walsh:                           

When we talk about the 26 master trainers who are working in educating people about trauma informed care in the state of South Dakota 58 community trainings. 1500 people reached. Give me an idea of who those people are? Who has been trained in the state? What sorts of jobs are they in?

Linda Daugaard:               

They're teacher's. They're care givers. They're lawyers. They're doctor's. They are educators. Just a great variety. There's social workers. People within the state. People within school systems. Leadership. People within communities that are leaders, it was just the first 26 trained were varied in what their jobs were. People part of the tribes. Tribal schools. It just was a great mix to start this whole campaign off.

Lori Walsh:                           

Every child at a different age has different needs. Every individual child probably has slightly different needs, and I'm wondering about sort of cultural differences. You mentioned the tribes. Is the training ... I know it's not one size fits all, but how does the training ... in your awareness of it, seek to cross cultural divides? And deal with different age groups? And different backgrounds?

Linda Daugaard:               

Well the state of Wisconsin with first lady Tonette Walker, has a great example of one tribe taking on trauma informed care, and have been so successful with it. And to just look at that model, and I'm sorry I don't have the name of that right in front of me, but she said we have been so ... Successful with a tribe that they're using as a model all over the United States. It is across cultures. And communities, large cities, small cities have had success with it. Schools have. And ... Wisconsin is kind of leading the charge with that, and she brought first spouses to Wisconsin in 2016 to introduce the whole concept, and tell us ... What they were doing in Wisconsin, and how we could just follow her example. And that's what's nice about first spouses. When I was working on infant mortality several other first spouses just took my model, my commercials, everything. And copied it within their states, and that's what's so great about the camaraderie that we have within the governors spouses.

Lori Walsh:                           

I wasn't aware that there was a network of first spouses, but you could see it at the town hall meeting, and beyond. What other things did you see in other states that you thought were things that might be worth looking at, and might be a good fit for South Dakota?

Linda Daugaard:               

Oh in North Dakota they're very involved with military families, so I think that would be another area ... If I was just starting out as a first spouse right now I think I would've taken that. Maybe a project with seniors. I don't know? There's just so many needs. And I think I might've considered that as I get older. That might be on my list to do yet.

Lori Walsh:                           

This notion of, as we talked about this it sounds sort of heavy, but it was also a very optimistic tone in the sense that they really wanted to tell the story that people do get well. And there are things that work, and there are things that we can build on. Did you find a sense of optimism at the town hall that you felt ... With this kind of collaboration, and this kind of education we have ... Real tools at hand to make a difference?

Linda Daugaard:               

Oh exactly. Yes. And it was ... Great to hear of all the different groups that are all working on trauma informed care, and pooling their resources together. We gave a shout out to all our South Dakota foster parents, as well as nationwide. We had some foster parents that were part of panels too, and they just are so dedicated, and are such ... Put in so many hours with each child that they come in contact with. I really want to thank all our foster parents here in South Dakota.

Lori Walsh:                           

How important is it to lay this foundation, and to have that wrap around care, that trauma informed care throughout the state? And in the event that there is a sort of larger scale ... A tornado, or some kind of community disaster where many kids are impacted. And once I saw that in other states too as they talked about the impact of hurricanes and such.

Linda Daugaard:               

I kind of look at it like the cocoon effect. If everybody is going in the same direction. If they know if there's a ... Disaster or something within South Dakota, that they know who to go to, and who our experts are and those experts just jump right in line and everyone is all walking in the same direction.

Lori Walsh:                      

First lady Linda Daugaard, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. She received a special recognition award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for her work in the state with foster parents, and with trauma informed care. Linda Daugaard, thank you for being here again.

Linda Daugaard:               

You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me Lori.

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