Special Initiatives

Provider Spotlight

RISE-LC and New Directions

The Resilience-Informed Service Environment Learning Collaborative (RISE-LC): Meaghan Barone Toft's Trauma-Informed Initiative

Last spring, the McSilver Institute at NYU launched the Resilience Informed Service Environment Learning Community (RISE-LC), a four-month partnership with organizations across New York State who were interested in learning about and implementing trauma-informed and resilience-based practices. Participating organizations formed Core Implementation Teams (CITs) which developed and applied trauma and resilience informed knowledge to their unique projects.

We recently had the privilege of chatting with Meaghan Barone Toft, LCSW, of New Directions: Youth and Family Services. As part of her RISE-LC participation, she implemented an exciting and transformative trauma-informed orientation to all newly hired staff, including support services, direct care, social workers, administration and finance, at New Directions.

New Direction’s New Orientation: Trauma-Informed Care

Portrait of Meaghan Barone Toft

Meaghan Barone Toft, LCSW.
Originally, Meaghan had an internal training document that provided her direct team with the foundations of trauma-informed care. During her participation in the RISE-LC, she identified that this content could be delivered to all staff at New Directions.

Having all staff, regardless of their role, start with a strong, consistent foundation of trauma-informed practices and a common language of trauma-informed care was important. Not only does it benefit their clients, it was critical to note that trauma applies to both clients and colleagues. For some administrative and finance staff, this might be one of their only opportunities to get this training.

After formalizing a proposal to her agency and receiving approval, Meaghan updated her original internal training document and consulted with the CTAC facilitators of the RISE-LC to develop a comprehensive and straightforward trauma-informed care orientation that all staff could benefit from. The RISE-LC experience was particularly useful in helping her structure the flow of the orientation and provided suggestions on how to improve and enhance it.

What are her hopes for her clients, staff, organization?

The intent of this orientation was to open doors for staff to question things they did not question before. She wants staff to be curious and to move from asking “what’s wrong” towards “what happened”. Meaghan hopes that this orientation will help open a pathway of more compassion and empathy in her organization when faced with a child or youth under extreme emotional stress.

Meaghan Barone Toft is the Adventure Recreation Director at New Directions: Youth and Family Services. New Directions is a 501(c)3 non-profit in Western New York that provides a variety of community-based, preventative, residential, educational, and foster care services.

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