Long-Term Recovery after the 2017 North Bay Wildfires

In October 2017, massive fires burned at least 245,000 acres across six Northern California counties, destroying an estimated 8,900 structures, and killing 44 people. Napa and Sonoma Counties were among those hit hardest. In the years following the fires, these communities have been committed to rebuilding efforts. However, given the current post-disaster environment, many community members, especially Latino families, are struggling to overcome their trauma and stress in order to thrive. Successful long-term disaster recovery must address the multi-faceted challenges of trauma—and the need for trauma-informed, resiliency-supporting services in Napa and Sonoma Counties are high.

By participating in evidence-based trainings over the last five years, OTM has become a fully certified trauma-informed organization, who now has the capacity to support young people and families who suffer from trauma regain control over their lives, break negative community outcomes and live a healthy and stable life. On The Move continues to utilize these evidence-based models of trauma-informed practices throughout the Thriving Schools Wellness Initiative.

Providing Trauma-Informed Care at School

The Thriving Schools Wellness Initiative directly addresses the impact of trauma that children and families have experienced following the 2017 Napa and Sonoma County wildfires. Through partnerships with school teams and parents, the Initiative creates an environment of wellness on six high-needs school campuses. In Napa, this includes McPherson, Shearer, and Phillips Elementary Schools. In Sonoma, this includes El Verano, Sassarini and Flowery Elementary Schools.

The Initiative is built on the idea that in order to best support the well-being of our youngest community members, both teachers and parents must be equipped with the skills and support required to best meet the needs of vulnerable children. Given the right tools and opportunities, teachers and parents can provide their children with a rich environment that promotes wellness, resiliency, and healing from trauma.

Goals & Strategies for Supporting Children and Families

The Initiative is built upon two specific goals and strategies:

1.) Support teachers to best care for children and address trauma: Initiative staff lead teacher workshops, support school staff to implement self-care tools, and create personal safety plans and peer-to-peer support opportunities. Licensed therapists are available to guide support groups and wellness plans for students and families who are suffering from trauma. In addition, the Initiative provides workshops that guide teachers in creating weekly classroom wellness activities for students across campuses.

2.) Empower parents to support their children healing from trauma: Initiative staff engage parents in educational classes and activities that support family wellness. Parents are able to develop concrete skills that support their ability to understand trauma triggers and how to significantly lessen the impacts of trauma on their children and families. Licensed therapists are available to guide support groups and help families build resiliency and address trauma. In addition, parents can participate in hands-on projects and gatherings that foster a sense of community, resiliency and empowerment.