Back to my Roots

By: Debralyn Woodberry-Shaw

In 2015, I participated in boOST your expertise — a 10-month action research program to deepen my expertise on trauma-informed care in out-of-school time (OST) programs for young people of Color. My research questions were:

  1. How can a trauma-informed care community be created in an OST program and
  2. What, if any, impacts does the community have on the young people served?

I conducted regular training sessions with staff at one OST program through boOST. Additionally, I observed staff and provided feedback. Lastly, staff self-reflected on their mindsets and behaviors routinely. I learned the most effective method for staff and organizational change was continuous training, observations, and staff self-reflections. In addition, I realized if I wanted to measure the impact of these professional development experiences on young people’s wellness, my engagement with staff needed to be collaborative, consistent, and comprehensive. This model was the start of ELIE Circle.

After boOST, my goal was to continue contracting with organizations for a year to offer thorough professional development experiences on trauma-informed care (e.g., intentionally building relationships and communication). However, organizations requested short-term and one-time training sessions. In an effort to spread basic knowledge about trauma-informed, I pivoted my original goal. I collected anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of the training, but I was not able to measure impact on young people. At that time, getting the word out about trauma-informed care was needed. Now that OST staff have a better understanding of trauma-informed care, we need to go deeper.

In the midst of the dual pandemics, racism and COVID-19, I am going back to my roots — collaborative, consistent, and comprehensive professional development experiences. This provides the opportunity to understand if and how these experiences are:

  1. Changing staff mindsets and behaviors,
  2. Creating antiracist, trauma-informed, healing-centered spaces, and
  3. Impacting young people’s wellness.

ELIE Circle’s Online Community is the first step in returning to my roots. The community is a space for educators (i.e., individuals educating young people including family members, community members, in-school providers, and out-of-school providers) to learn, grow, and support one another. Please visit: for more information.




The educator goals for ECOC are:  — Learn, grow, and challenge in a community  — Support young people of Color as they reach their full potential and stay  holistically well  — Create antiracist, trauma-informed, and healing-centered spaces for young people of Color

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ELIE Circle, LLC.

ELIE Circle, LLC.

We work to eliminate harm of young people through research, professional development experiences, education, and consulting. Website:

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