Dr. Teri Lawler, Project Director for the Trauma Recovery Demonstration Grant program at the Delaware State Department of Education, credits the success of Project THRIVE (Trauma Health Recovery InnoVation & Engagement) to the cross-sector partnerships she and her team have initiated and maintained. Project THRIVE provides free mental health services and trauma-informed support to eligible Delaware students grades pre-k through 12 attending Delaware public schools, private schools, parochial schools, and homeschools. These services assist students struggling with traumatic situations such as physical or emotional abuse, community violence, racism, bullying, and more by encouraging them to process and understand traumatic situations, attend school regularly, better control emotions and behaviors, and develop coping skills for managing stress at home and school.
With the help of partners Dan Cruce, Chief Operating Officer at United Way of Delaware; Peggy Geisler, PMG Consulting.net Owner and Senior Strategic Consultant; and Dr. Heidi Sweetman, Program Evaluator at Sweetman Evaluation Consulting, Project THRIVE has helped refer many students to necessary mental health services through streamlined communication and advertising efforts. With PMG Consulting’s help in identifying communication needs, United Way’s operationalizing of tools to address these needs, and Sweetman Evaluation Consulting’s overall evaluation of these efforts, these partnerships have supported Project THRIVE’s mission by helping to facilitate the referral process for students, parents, school staff, and community-based organizations through the examination of access, equity, trust, and stigma.
While 85% of the grant funds go to direct trauma-informed training of parents, teachers, community-based organizations and mental health providers, Project THRIVE and its partners have maximized the remaining 15% by putting the funds towards sustainability efforts for the program. With the help of Sweetman Evaluation consulting and their evaluation of data that reflects the amount of training schools and organizations are participating in and the number of providers being connected with students, Project THRIVE can measure overall community engagement and determine ways to modify communication efforts to meet shifting needs.
Overall, Dr. Lawler credits the utilization of a common language and shared goals as the basis for creating successful cross-sector partnerships and the development of trust through long-standing relationships. Their partnership is fortified by strong communication, purposeful collaboration, and reliable leadership. Project THRIVE hopes to continue to address the growing mental health crisis by locating and addressing gaps both within their system as well as on a broader policy level.
To learn more about Project THRIVE, visit https://education.delaware.gov/pages/project-thrive/. To hear directly from Dr. Lawler and her partners, listen to their episode of In Session in which they discuss their partnerships’ strategies and successes: Trauma-Informed Support and Community Collaboration with Dr. Teri Lawler | National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE)