The perspective of clinical caseworkers on the developmental trauma experiences of youth living in group homes at Ranch Ehrlo
Becerra, Susana Prado
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Trauma is a common problem experienced by marginalized children, youth, and their families. It affects physical health, mental health, and relationships and often manifests as problematic behavior for which youth within the child welfare system in Canada are institutionalized. This research utilizes a critical realist perspective of disability, a developmental trauma disorder (DTD) approach, and ethnographic methods with the aim to understand the perspectives of caseworkers working with youth who have experienced trauma and are now residing in Ranch Ehrlo Society’s (RES) group homes. The data collection consisted of six semi-structured interviews with clinical caseworkers who work in RES’s residential programs. According to the data, the youth present trauma exposure and symptoms and behaviors as described by DTD diagnostic criteria. Other findings that emerged include the community, familial, and child welfare factors that contribute to the trauma; considerations for trauma-informed care; and resilience. In conclusion, a DTD approach and a critical realist perspective contribute to inform the problem in an innovative and coherent manner, offering social workers knowledge in advocating for social justice, developing professional competency, and enhancing interdisciplinary work.