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Healing South Stockton
Equity depends on people getting the resources and experiences they need to have the same opportunities to thrive. However, the potential for South Stockton residents to achieve health and success is thwarted by trauma. Like a city devastated by a tornado, South Stockton suffers from decades of neglect in quality of education, economic investment, job opportunities, healthy food choices, and medical services. For generations, these neighborhoods consistently had high rates of incarceration, abuse, neglect, poverty, homelessness, and violence. With repeated exposure, trauma and chronic stress have been woven into the fabric of this community and represents a serious and unaddressed barrier to mental and physical stability.
In 2016, San Joaquin County conducted a community health needs assessment with the Department of Public Health, several health care providers, and community partners. This community and data-led initiative allowed health partners to identify trauma as a factor in everything from gang violence to low test scores. This project, Healing South Stockton, is aimed at connecting with residents who have experienced trauma and chronic stress, linking them with behavioral health services and community supports appropriate to their needs and culture, and addressing systemic community issues that lead to or increase community trauma.
Taking input from community members and a collective of partners, the Healing South Stockton project is now working on an asset mapping strategy that outlines a variety of partners, programs, and physical resources serving South Stockton around trauma and social supports. In addition to general community assets, the group is specifically looking at services and systems surrounding populations with historically high levels of trauma, like foster youth, low-income families, the LGBTQ+ population, victims of violence, and formerly incarcerated individuals. The aim is to create relationships between partners so a continuum of trauma care for these (and other) populations that can be adopted by community, health care, government, school and law enforcement partners.
While the work of the collaborative is rooted in evidence-based strategies and driven by data, the long-term goal is to allow the focus and priorities to come from the residents, acknowledging the collective historical wisdom of the community.
The first step to maintaining the integrity of the project was to develop a shared governance structure that included health plan partners, government, non-profit partners, and residents. This leadership team would oversee funding decisions, lead work groups, and develop a preliminary plan of action based on existing data and programs. In the first year of implementation, the team held several community meetings to engage partner organizations across sectors of education, health, housing, law enforcement, and economic development, developing a shared understanding of the importance of trauma prevention work and champions of this movement.
The group coordinated with community-based organizations, schools and faith-based groups to engage residents in focus groups about what they feel contributes to trauma in Stockton and what kind of support is needed beyond existing services. This information helps focus policy advocacy, systems change and increasing access to appropriate services.
The Stockton Trauma Recovery Center (STRC), run by Fathers and Families of San Joaquin (FFSJ), is working to create a referral system to reduce violence and promote culturally-relevant treatment of trauma. Since 2015, STRC has enrolled over 500 non-duplicated clients into the program and educated more than 1,000 individuals on the benefits and the process involved in acquiring trauma recovery services.
Healing South Stockton has also funded organizations in targeted areas to hire local residents to become “trust builders,” who reach out to residents to share resources, plan community events, and connect people to dedicated neighborhood case managers for additional needs.
Timeline of Project: Since 2016
Cost of Project: Three-year $850,000 grant
Initiator: San Joaquin County, Department of Public Health
Stockton, CA – 2018 AAC Winner: Presentation
Healing South Stockton
Amy Portello Nelson, Trauma Systems & Wellness Coordinator
Reinvent South Stockton Coalition