Recapping the 2016 Foster Care Coordinators' Conference 

The annual Foster Care Coordinators' Conference just wrapped up in Wisconsin Rapids. It was a great couple of days connecting with colleagues throughout the state and learning more about trauma, healing, and taking care of ourselves and the families and children we work with.  

From Chaos to Calm: Emotional Regulatory Healing: Mindfully based and Trauma Informed Care

Juli (Jules) Alvarado gave us some real life examples and had our group demonstrate the effect of stress on our brains. She also had us "check in" with ourselves to discover our physiological responses to stress - how our brains become dysregulated. She also incorporated the brain science that explains why we respond to stress and perceived danger (Fight, Flight, or Freeze).

We often work in environments that can become very stressful or dysregulated rather quickly. Ms. Alvarado shared a few easy ways we can modify our work space to help us feel more regulated:
  • Keeping lighting at eye level -- using lamps instead of relying on overhead, fluorescent lighting.
  • Not using patterned carpeting and using a solid, more neutral color pallet produces a more calming visual experience.
  • Water features, such as miniature fountains or nature CD's can help produce soothing sounds in our work space.
  • Lemon and lavender scents are connected to regulating the brain. Using candles (real or electric) or essential oils can be an easy addition to your work space.
Ms. Alvarado also shared with us some easy things we can remember and a couple easy breathing exercises we can start doing right away to help us when we encounter others who are dysregulated.
  • "I cannot give away that which is not mine to give." Simply saying that, if we are stressed out, we cannot share peace and calm with others. When we are calm, we can share that or give that to others.
  • "Your chaos will not become my chaos." In other words, I will choose not to engage in your stress and anxiety.
  • "The brain is the boss of behavior." A regulated brain will produce regulated behaviors, and a dysregulated brain will produce dysregulated behaviors. Trauma, including secondary trauma, can produce dysregulation in our brains.
  • "Our biography becomes our biology." We live in the world we create and our brain learns through repetition.
  • "Slow and Low." This is an easy breathing technique that can help regulate us; our breath is a bridge from dysregulation to regulation.
    • Start with taking three deep breaths and exhalations (at least eight counts on the exhale) and then lower your tone of voice and slow down your rate of speech when engaging with others.
    • Stop, drop, roll - do this right away when you feel you have moved into the "fight, flight, or freeze" mode.
      • Stop moving, stop talking, etc.
      • Drop back into your breathing (slow and low) to regulate.
      • Roll back into relationship with others.
We received some good, easy to incorporate examples of how to regulate ourselves in a way that is easy to understand, and principles that are easy to teach the families we work with. Consider sharing these teachable techniques with your foster parents to help them along their fostering journey. For more information on Juli Alvarado's work on trauma and healing, please check out her website, Alvarado Consulting & Treatment Group .

We hope this information is useful for you! We also want to remind you that we are here to help and support you. Please don't hesitate to reach out to the Resource Specialists at the Coalition: 414-475-1246, 800-762-8063, info@coalitionforcyf.org .
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Coalition for Children, Youth & Families | 414-475-1246 | info@coalitionforcyf.org | coalitionforcyf.org
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