Trauma Informed Playroom

homeless_children_10Many parents and children served by the Playtime Project have faced multiple traumas including physical and sexual abuse, physical and emotional neglect, and household dysfunction (e.g. separated parents, family members who are incarcerated, mentally ill, or addicted). While staff and volunteers are not privy to information about the traumas families have encountered, we can be sure they have experienced at least one trauma: homelessness.

The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project plays an important role in ensuring that families are not re-traumatized following entry into shelters. To accomplish this, staff and volunteers are trained to recognize signs of trauma and to help children cope when signs of trauma become apparent.

A trauma informed playroom:

  • Transfers power to children and families – Volunteers empower youth by maximizing their sense of control and allowing children to make their own choices.
  • Recognizes strengths of families and engages them as partners in implementing programs – By making children and parents co-participants in establishing expectations for the programs, we empower them to take ownership.
  • Allows children to express, relate, and find validation – Staff and volunteers help children discover their strengths, utilize their skills, express feelings, and communicate effectively with adults and peers.
  • Orients children to their surroundings and helps them anticipate what’s next – By guiding children through their options in the playroom and planning transitions well in advance, children feel safe and develop executive functioning skills, including the ability to plan ahead, organize their time, and complete tasks.
  • Has a comfortable and welcoming physical environment – Volunteers who work directly with children are required to make a weekly commitment for 6 months or longer so children can build lasting relationships and count on them to bring consistency to the programs. Supporters help create a welcoming physical environment by cleaning playrooms, organizing toys and supplies, and donating items to replace toys and equipment that break or become worn.
  • Maintains clear and consistent boundaries – Volunteers model appropriate behavior and promote positive interactions to help children feel secure.

To learn more, visit our blog. To support our efforts to reduce the effects of trauma for children living in shelters in the District of Columbia, please make a donation.