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Troubled teen girl sitting on floor


Trying to implement trauma-specific clinical practices without first implementing trauma-informed organizational culture change is like throwing seeds on dry land.

- Dr. Sandra L. Bloom

Bridgeway receives some of the most traumatized and high-risk placements in Ontario, many of which who would otherwise be placed in group care settings. Through a trauma-informed lens, we acknowledge that the behaviours and challenges of these Foster Children, Youth, and Young Adults are often a result of unaddressed trauma. Our approach must shift from "What is wrong with you?" to "What has happened to you?"

Service providers often adopt trauma-informed care at a clinical level, however we believe that being trauma-informed requires a broader change in our thinking, conversations, and overall organizational culture. Our clinical and supervisory teams work closely with Foster Parents to identify the signs and symptoms of trauma, map out paths to recovery, and create strategies to actively reduce the risks of re-traumatization. Through trauma-informed care, we can make a lasting positive impact on the lives of these vulnerable children, helping them overcome their past and build a brighter future.

There are no shortcuts here. Becoming ‘trauma-informed’ is not just about ‘training’. It is really a process of re-education.

- Dr. Sandra L. Bloom (The Sanctuary Model)
  • UNDERSTAND the profound impact of trauma.

  • HELP US RECOGNIZE the signs, symptoms, and triggers of trauma.

  • TEACH US how to listen and respond (rather than react).

  • PROMOTE AND EMPHASIZE well-being and resilience.​​

  • MAP OUT paths to recovery and ways to actively resist re-traumatization.​​


Recovery from trauma requires a comprehensive and individualized approach. In each home, we aim to create a safe, nurturing, family-based environment that fosters resilience and promotes healing. This involves providing  compassionate care, building healthy relationships, and ensuring consistency and predictability in the child's life. By prioritizing safety, trust, and empowerment, we believe that every individual in foster care can participate in therapeutic interventions, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and experience healing.


Safety is not the absence of threat. It is the presence of connection.

- Dr. Gabor Maté

Children in foster care are particularly vulnerable to re-traumatization (the conscious or unconscious re-experience of a traumatic event) due to the disruptions and transitions they often experience. We train and coach our Foster Parents in how to recognize trauma triggers, effectively communicate, and establish healthy boundaries. This is a constant process of learning how to practice empathy, actively observe and listen, and thoughtfully respond. When Bridgeway families build trusting relationships, they are most effective in reducing the harmful impact of re-traumatization.


While trauma-informed practices play a vital role in the care we provide to Foster Children, Youth, and Young Adults, we also acknowledge that those who work in foster care will likely experience vicarious trauma. Foster Parents and staff are encouraged to recognize signs of secondary traumatic stress, fatigue, and burnout in themselves and others. Our check-ins and trainings emphasize the importance of setting boundaries; practicing self-awareness, self-care, and self-compassion; maintaining an attitude of gratitude; and reaching out for support.

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