Fostering Hope for Children's Futures through Prevention

What if children learned that relationships don’t have to hurt and what they've been through isn’t who they are, but what they’ve overcome?

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

She was 17 years old and in desperate need of help but her behavior made it difficult to care for her. Numerous placements failed before she came to us. Following the Trauma Informed Care approach, staff frequently reminded themselves not to ask “what’s wrong with her?”, but rather, “what happened to her?” After months of intense therapy and unwavering compassion, we watched in awe as she maintained a 4.0 GPA her senior year of high school and began attending college last year.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)
  • Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian)


Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]


Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]


Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The most common treatment is a “point and level” system that maintains control through consequences and rewards. Because it lacks focus on the relationship with the child or the behavior cause, impulses for maladaptive behavior remain into adulthood. We need a treatment philosophy and approach that recognizes the impact of trauma on behavior and addresses the underlying trauma as an essential first step to establish healthy interactions.

Addressing the impact of trauma on thinking and functioning is humane and compassionate and provides an opportunity for children to move beyond damaging circumstances rather than trying to ignore them.  Children are able to give voice to their pain through Trauma Informed Care rather than “stuffing” those feelings, which invariably leads to those feelings resurfacing as maladaptive behavior.  To heal, a traumatized child must risk connecting with caring adults who are different from those of their past.  Over time, through relationships with Maryvale staff who give respect, information, connection and hope, our children can learn to put their trust in caring adults and create healthy relationships with others.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • No, not explicitly

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services
  • Mental Health

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Youth’s trauma symptoms are reduced (critical incidents and DSM behaviors) and they are able to access and sustain a less restrictive living environment. Youth are able to participate and gain support from reciprocal social relationships that prompt healing and corrective experiences. We have a boy who came to us thinking no one cared for him. He doesn’t know if/when his mom will ever return. If she is late for a visit, he panics and wants to call to make sure she is still alive. Using the Trauma Informed Care, he has begun to establish healthy connections with adults. He is gaining hope that his relationship with his mom and adults can be safe and positive, giving him a chance to be like any other "happy little boys".

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In 2012, we began changing from a model of crisis intervention to Trauma Informed Care (TIC). TIC offers interventions that address trauma-related symptoms and their underlying causes moving the treatment to a proactive model. We chose the Risking Connection® (“RC”) training curriculum and the Restorative Approach from the Traumatic Stress Institute in CT which is rooted in relational and attachment theory. RC is introduced to all employees using the philosophy that everyone is a "treater" and the Restorative Approach is for direct care employees providing them tools to use with the children they serve. Both models provide framework for understanding and healing the symptoms and behaviors that result in traumatized children. By 2017, we expect to have introduced both training components to all employees, shifting the way we view children and the way they view the world.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • over $5mil

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Maryvale has diversified sources of revenues that create a solid foundation for sustaining its critical services: government contracts that provide a steady source of funding and growing fundraising efforts with contributions increasing 311% over the past three years. Maryvale also receives support from the Daughters of Charity whose funds are used in a variety of ways to expand services and maintain the highest quality programs possible.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Maryvale is one of a select group of agencies in California utilizing the Risking Connections and Restorative Process approach. While there are several other agencies utilizing trauma informed care principles, Maryvale has developed and adapted a unique curriculum into its work with specialized populations such as Commercially Sexually Exploited (CSEC) and chemically dependent youth.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Based on our experience, Maryvale believes that utilizing sound and proven Trauma Informed Care principles and practices that focus on relationship, brain development and unmet needs is crucial for children to heal and recover from trauma and abuse. The field requires more committed resources able to provide targeted treatment efforts in foster homes after youth have been stabilized in short-term residential facilities. This can only be done if we more robustly resource all short-term facilities so that children are able to receive the individualized attention needed.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Board member, Marsha Chen

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 100%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 25%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 25%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 50%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 25%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 25%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 25%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 25%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 0%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 0%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 66.7%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Christy Beighe-Byrne

It sounds like your project is having a positive impact on the children and families receiving the Trauma Informed Care services- good work!  I would suggest that you offer your audience a little more insight on how a session might be run and/or how the therapist helps the child label his/her feelings and emotions as a result of trauma and loss.  

P.S. I loved your opening section-- very inspirational.