Guest Columnists

Collaborating for a Resilient Iowa

Volunteers at the Coralville Library place plastic beads in a pouch to create a weighted blanket. The blankets are used to soothe children with autism or those who have experienced trauma. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Volunteers at the Coralville Library place plastic beads in a pouch to create a weighted blanket. The blankets are used to soothe children with autism or those who have experienced trauma. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

The University of Iowa Colleges of Medicine, Education, and Public Health are collaborating with multiple statewide initiatives and governmental agencies to organize an invitation-only workshop titled “Collaborating for a Resilient Iowa Through a Trauma-Informed Lens” to be held on Sept. 25-26 in Coralville.

The workshop is sponsored by the University of Iowa Office of Outreach and Engagement, the Iowa Department of Human Services (Child Protection Council), the Radisson Hotel in Coralville and the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Center. Two hundred invited attendees from the fields of health, human services, education, justice system, state/regional task forces and faith communities will focus on how our collaboration can increase resilience across Iowa through trauma-informed prevention, care and practices.

During the workshop, participants will collaborate to address the following questions:

• How do we infuse trauma-informed care/practices into pre-professional programs for teachers, administrators, mental health and medical care professionals?

• How do we establish a coordinated communitywide prevention and resilience focus?

• How do we address basic needs of clients in poverty (food, clothing, shoes, housing, health care) by establishing community-based programs?

• How do we foster a sense of belonging, a sense of mission, and trusting and supportive relationships within our individual clients, families and agencies?

• How do we create supportive family networks by organizing events that promote diversity and a feeling of community?

• How do we support professionals in the field to prevent secondary trauma and compassion fatigue through self-care, team-care and systems-care?


The attendees will continue collaborating at the state, regional and local level after the workshop.

The stakeholders’ long-term goal is to create statewide resource tools for promoting resiliency through trauma-informed care and practices in Iowa.

This workshop is in response to research that shows that trauma from childhood is strongly tied to negative health outcomes and build on existing efforts to improve outcomes/resilience for Iowans. Studies since the 1990s have identified that more than half of adults were exposed to at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE), which may include events such as child abuse, household violence, household mental illness, or parental substance abuse.

Individuals who are struggling with ACE-related psychological and health consequences can face challenges when seeking services, ranging from social services to health care, because the underlying issues of adversity are not considered. Central Iowa ACEs 360, Eastern Iowa/Western Illinois Trauma-Informed Care Consortium, Community Resilience Coalition of Eastern Iowa, ACE Interface, Prevent Child Abuse Iowa, University of Iowa Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences, Iowa Department of Public Health, and other agencies have collaborated to improve systems of care and reduce the impact of trauma on Iowans.

The stakeholders hope that this workshop will establish long lasting collaborative relationships at local and state level among attendees moving Iowa communities toward a higher level of resiliency.

• Resmiye Oral is a clinical professor of pediatrics and the director of the Child Protection Program at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. Armeda Stevenson Wojciak is an assistant professor and director of the Couple and Family Therapy Center at the University of Iowa College of Education.



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