SONOMA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hanna Boys Center has embarked on a bold journey that will bring major changes to the venerable 75-year-old residential treatment center for at-risk youth. A new strategic plan, unanimously approved by Hanna’s Board of Trustees, commits to healing and resolving recent internal strife and discord, improving educational and emotional outcomes, and sharing expertise and experience with the broader community.
The strategic plan states, “Without equivocation, we have concluded that we must change to reflect the needs, research and expectations of our many stakeholders. By managing our future and navigating through necessary if sometimes uncomfortable change, Hanna can help more youth and families transition from a life of fear and instability to one of hope and opportunity.”
“The strategic plan articulates five goals that are critical to the success of Hanna,” said CEO Brian Farragher. “The first is to address and uncover any past incidents of sexual abuse, to make sure that any young person in our care who was hurt is heard, that appropriate actions are taken, and amends are made. This can never happen undetected again,” he said. Farragher noted that until Hanna addresses this aspect of its past, it cannot fulfill its potential and responsibility to today’s and tomorrow’s students and families. “If we don’t heal ourselves, how can we possibly heal others?” he said.
The plan also calls for Hanna to double-down on its research, knowledge and commitment to trauma-informed care (TIC), as well as its delivery of services that reflect the latest research and theory around this widely accepted – and in California, state-mandated – approach.
Trauma-informed care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of trauma, while creating an environment of physical, psychological, and emotional safety. A landmark study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser involving 18,000 patients prompted widespread adoption of TIC by physicians, therapists, educators, and counselors. The Hanna Board hired Farragher five years ago because of his expertise in the field of TIC, and Hanna is committed to expanding its leadership role in this field of study, regionally and nationally.
Tullus Miller, chair of Hanna’s Board of Trustees, noted that Hanna’s Board recognizes the need and opportunity to fully implement TIC, thereby giving every young man the best chance of overcoming the fear, adversity, and lack of confidence that come with the difficult situations that brought them to Hanna in the first place.
“Brian has taught us that the question we must ask is not ‘What’s wrong with you?’ but ‘What happened to you?’” Miller said. “That simple question and answer underscores the critical difference between the previous Hanna model which was based on reward and punishment, and our new model which seeks to create relationships and foster collaboration to effect lasting positive change.”
Hanna’s expertise in TIC will be amplified through the Hanna Institute, which provides training to people working at community agencies who interact with those impacted by trauma. The Institute disseminates research and helps design programs to take its learnings outside the walls of Hanna. For example:
- In January 2020, the Institute will host a national conference, bringing together experts and thought leaders from around the country.
- Last year, the Institute received a $650,000 grant from The Tipping Point Community to study and help first responders of the North Bay wildfires.
“Trauma knows no bounds,” Farragher said. “We want to be part of the national movement to help and heal victims of all ages and circumstance, here in Sonoma and beyond.”
Other elements of the plan address a more flexible organizational structure that enables Hanna to reach its full potential, attract the best talent, and develop a culture of trust and collaboration. The Board also endorsed the evaluation of new funding sources and expansion of external partnerships so that critical investments in infrastructure and programming can be made.
Miller acknowledged that not every stakeholder may understand or embrace the new direction, but “with any organizational transition and change, not everyone is going to see eye to eye.” He noted that the strategic plan reflects hundreds of hours of work and discussion by the Board, staff, outside facilitators, and strategic planning experts, and included input from former Hanna residents. The former students argued for more academic rigor and accountability to prepare them for college and career.
Miller, who has served on the Board for eight years, the last two as chair, recounted his reason for volunteering and leading the organization through this period of change. “We have a saying around the Board table when we undertake our discussions and decisions: ‘What’s best for our young people?’ Ultimately, the changes we are making will make us better and more effective in helping these tremendous young men reach their full potential. For me, that says it all.”