Whole Child Initiative Provides Guidance for Holistic Care

March 28, 2019

Palmer Home for Children developed the Whole Child Initiative in 2016. As we continue to learn more, Whole Child continues to evolve. What started as a simple evaluative tool has become an organizational change model. In 2018, Palmer Home implemented Whole Child Initiative’s Model of Care.

This process requires training at every level, including board, staff, care-givers, and other adult figures in the lives of the children in our care. This cohesive, trauma-responsive approach recognizes that each child has unique needs and strengths, and places great importance upon creating a consistent culture of holistic care throughout the organization.

Whole Child was first considered when our leadership began asking a range of questions – wise and hard questions – about providing care tailored specifically to meet the needs of children who have experienced early life adversity. How can we affect change within the lives of children who have been traumatized? How can we measure that change? 

Once we understood that trauma deeply affects development and relationships, Palmer Home sought to shift the lens through which each child’s needs were addressed and met. The core principles of Whole Child Initiative address these needs in a fourfold manner.

Whole Story affirms the concept that children are best understood in relation to their history. Recognizing each child’s history allows caregivers to better understand the impact a child’s past has on his or her current functioning.

Whole Child focuses on four areas of development uniquely impacted by the experience of trauma: physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. When needs in these areas are addressed in responsive, relational ways, children begin the healing process toward hope and restoration

Whole Caregiver includes any adult who engages with the children at Palmer Home. Whole Caregiver encourages and provides resources for self-awareness and self-care, recognizing that healthy relationships heal. When children are surrounded by safe, healthy, trustworthy adults, they thrive.

Whole Team is comprised of Whole Caregivers who care for children in a unified approach. This principle ensures that children receive cohesive, trauma-responsive care from every member of the Palmer Home team.

Every aspect of a child’s life is interconnected, and each aspect influences how we respond to the Whole Child. Palmer Home utilizes the Whole Child Initiative on a daily basis thus creating a restorative environment for children and families, allowing them to heal and thrive at home, school, and in the community.