The Center for Human Faith and Flourishing from LCC International University in partnership with the international non-profit organization, Back2Back Ministries, welcomed 80 participants to the three-day Trauma Competent Caregiver (TCC) Training held last week, September 12-14. Attendees included child psychologists, social workers, foster and adoption case workers, and current/prospective adoptive/foster parents.
Jayne Schooler and Dr. David Schooler, who were speakers at TCC, have taken the training to approximately 25 countries around the world, recognizing the need of equipping people who work and care for children with the background of adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, natural and man-made disasters, systemic effects, and other traumatic experiences. TCC training was a success with participants coming from all over the world and gathering on LCC’s campus to learn proven practices used to provide the best support and care for those dealing with trauma.
Jayne, as an author and trainer of TCC, could you please share more about TCC and its vision?
We recognized the need for this specific training about 10 years ago. I have been a social worker trainer in America for 30 years and noticed there was a huge gap in understanding the needs of children. Families and social workers were not being educated on what trauma does to kids and how to really help them heal. We felt led by God to step into the gap and develop what He had equipped us for. My husband, Dr. David Schooler and I began exploring what trauma-informed care would look like. As a result, Back2Back Ministries, with our team, developed this 9 module training now known as TCC. The vision is straightforward- we transform how children with a history of trauma are cared for.
David, you and your wife adopted your son Roy in 1983. This marked the beginning of your journey into foster care. How did you become involved with foster care training and with TCC?
It was by accident. One of our foster sons asked us if we would take him into our family. We never thought about it before then. We took him in and became his parents. It was at that time we realized we did not know how to do this with kids from traumatized lives. Many years ago, we then began to study how to work with kids who come from hard places. I also have been a pastor for many years, and find these principles can be applied to pastoring in ministry as well.
Both of you are also active in international ministries and as part of your work with LAMb International Ministries you ministered in Ukraine. Could you share more about LAMb and your mission with them?
Jayne: That is where we originally started in 2003, actually working and learning about international social work. We worked in Ukraine and in Kyrgyzstan in 2010-2011, there we met Back2Back Ministries and joined with them. We found, particularly in these countries, much like in the United States, people were not educated on how to take good care of these children. Many children were in very difficult orphanages, where discipline was extremely harsh. We have worked in orphanages, in social work departments, and at a university in Kyrgyzstan sharing some of these materials and principles.
TCC gathered participants from different countries here at LCC. What was your experience during the first day of training?
David: What I felt on the first day was two things. It was an honor to be here, to be asked to come. It was an incredible honor that I take very seriously. The second emotion I felt was humility. A lot of people have done a lot of work to prepare for us to come here and we so deeply appreciate it.
Jayne: The first day in some ways is always the hardest because we are talking about trauma. And what we have learned in the past says that many people, many participants come from their own history of trauma. There is a lot of feeling and thought and it is pretty heavy material. However, I am excited to see how those who attended will take it from here. I know there is a lot of follow up necessary. The fact that they are taking it back to their own country is huge. I am very interested to see how they implement the principles and how they will train their staff going forward.
This was the first time TCC has gathered at LCC International University for the training. How did the location benefit the training?
David: It was the first time that we have had the training in Lithuania actually. Universities are a good place to train, particularly here at LCC, due to the emphasis of international reach. Putting TCC training in an academic environment gives credibility in the academic world.
Dr. Benjamin Giffone, Director of the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing, noted: “We were very blessed to partner with Back2Back Ministries (USA) and Cultivate (USA / Baltics) to host this training event. ‘Trauma’ is one of the research areas of the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing, and at this professional training the very latest in social-scientific research was presented by our speakers, David and Jayne Schooler, and Julie Cooper.
80 people participated in the training and the majority of the trainees work in Lithuania, but we also had participants from Jordan, Estonia, Latvia, USA, Lebanon, Belarus, Sweden, UK, and Slovakia. Three interpreters worked to provide simultaneous translation into Lithuanian language, and Dr. Jovita Anikinaitė, our co-organizer, translated all materials into Lithuanian. Volunteers from Latvia CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) and Lithuania together with Kodi Stephens (Executive Director of Cultivate) in front, helped by leading the small-group activities to gain practical skills.
I believe that within the region, the Center for Faith and Human Flourishing provided the perfect context for this training. The visibility of orphans and the focus on trauma in recent years reveals that the need in our society is urgent and significant. Integral to the TBRI approach pioneered at Texas Christian University, which is the basis for this training, is the redemptive power of the Christian gospel as applied in the lives of children, parents, caregivers and workers who experience tremendous pain and loss. The Christian faith provides the foundation for an approach that views the material and the transcendent as integrated aspects of the whole human being, made in the image of the Triune God, and worthy of care and healing."