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The Sanctuary Model at KidsPeace

By Leslie Ten Broeck, LCSW, KidsPeace Sanctuary Coordinator



KidsPeace is totally committed to implementing the Sanctuary Model at all levels of care, with implementation beginning in residential programs in Pennsylvania. Sanctuary is a model of trauma-informed care and organizational change that is important to the care and treatment of all clients. The Core Team for Sanctuary at KidsPeace numbers 37 members and includes seven subcommittees (called “Action Groups”), which address different aspects of Sanctuary at KidsPeace.


The Sanctuary Institute in New York has developed a certification process, which includes a published list of standards that need to be met in order to be certified. KidsPeace is working toward SI certification in 2012. The certification process is lengthy and culminates in representatives from the Sanctuary Institute spending several days at our site reviewing records and practices, observing the daily functioning of all departments of the organization and interviewing staff, administration and clients.


What is the Sanctuary Model?

Sanctuary represents a trauma-informed method for changing an organizational culture in order to provide an ideal therapeutic environment for everyone who is a part of that environment. This model reflects the understanding that trauma can be experienced by all members of an organization, staff and clients, and that the agency as a whole is dynamic and can be negatively impacted by experiences within the organization. Thus, Sanctuary seeks to create a culture of physical, psychological, social and moral safety for all who are part of the organization.


The Aims of Sanctuary:

       Increased perceived sense of community through the creation of a nonviolent environment

       Increased degree of “social immunity” to the spread of violence

       Increased capacity for “social learning”

       Increased democratic decision-making and shared responsibility in problem-solving and conflict resolution

       Ability to deal with complexity

       Opportunity for all clients and staff to experience a truly safe and connected community

       Opportunity for troubled clients to have corrective emotional, relational and environmental experiences

       Reduced episodes of violence including verbal, physical and sexual forms of harassment, bullying and violence on part of staff and clients

       Reduced critical incidents

       Improved job satisfaction

       Reduced staff turnover

       Improved client satisfaction

       The promotion of collective recovery, healing and growth.


The goals of Sanctuary are to guide an organization in the development of a trauma-sensitive culture with seven dominant characteristics, all of which serve goals related to trauma resolution and model good relational and parenting skills.  These are known as the Seven Commitments:


o      Commitment to Nonviolence: to understand what different forms of violence do to children and adults


o      Commitment to Emotional Intelligence: to promote an increase in emotional self-awareness


o      Commitment to Social Learning: to promote a therapeutic teaching and learning environment where we learn from past experience


o      Commitment to Shared Governance: to develop a community of shared decision-making and discussion


o      Commitment to Open Communication: to be courageous enough to speak openly, honestly and respectfully, in order to resolve problems in a supportive manner


o      Commitment to Social Responsibility: to develop a therapeutic community of justice, fair play and responsibility


o      Commitment to Growth and Change: to help develop a community of creativity, imagination and hope for a better future.

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