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Building Connections: Supporting the Readiness and Capacity of Community-Based Projects to Deliver a Trauma-Informed Intervention

Samar Zuberi, Mary Motz, Margaret Leslie, Mothercraft Toronto, Canada; and Debra J. Pepler, York University


This article provides an overview of Building Connections, a national initiative in Canada to embed trauma-informed approaches into community-based projects, highlighting the components that indicate successful implementation. Building Connections uses a relationship-based approach (a) to support the readiness to engage in an intervention focused on interpersonal violence and (b) to motivate and maintain engagement of community-based projects throughout the initiative. Through modeling safety and reflection, Building Connections has supported community-based projects to implement trauma-informed frameworks into their clinical practice. With a combination of information, instruction, and support, staff members have become ambassadors of trauma-informed approaches, and this has led to a reach beyond the Building Connections intervention itself.

Community-based practitioners are in a unique position to cultivate safety, trust, and compassion in supporting families impacted by a myriad of risk factors—including interpersonal violence (IPV). In 1993, as a response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Public Health Agency of Canada established the Community Action Program for Children, a community-based program to support child development. Two years later, they established programs to support healthy births (Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program) and early intervention programs for Indigenous children (Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities). These programs fund projects that are designed to support the specific needs of diverse communities. Projects are mandated to engage and support pregnant women, families, and children living in conditions of risk, including family violence, child abuse, alcohol or substance use, poverty, and social and geographical isolation.

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