Our Framework

Forged In Fire Theoretical Framework

Forged in Fired utilizes information from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs),Neurology of Emotions and Behavior, Positive Psychology, Trauma-Informed Positive Behavior Supports, and Restorative Practices.

The mental health system does not have the capacity to work with all of the children and families in need of therapeutic, healing interventions. In an article in November 2017, the Children’s Hospital Association reported that 1 in 5 children has significant mental health challenges, and half of the teenagers with mental health issues that impair their daily functioning are NOT receiving treatment. The association also describes the lack of capacity in the mental health system to meet the needs of this population. 

As professionals serving children, we can no longer depend on the overburdened mental health system to provide what children and families need to thrive. The therapeutic, healing interventions must be provided universally in the context of the children and youths’ daily life and relationships. (Safe and Supportive Schools Commission: Principles of Effective Practice for Integrating Student Supports, 2017)

Discussing Options
Prenatal and early childhood experiences are recognized as a primary factor in how children and youth function in the present moment. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACEs), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997, explicitly describes the long-term impact of ACEs. This study today continues to inform the discussion that the experience of adversity in early childhood is a public health concern. A program such as Forged in Fire that focuses on the total environment surrounding children and youth and includes proactive community engagement is recommended by the CDC to change the trajectories of our most vulnerable citizens. (Fortson, Klevens, Merrick, Gilbert, & Alexandar, 2016)

The neurology of emotions and behaviors describes why ACEs have such a profound and long-lasting impact on how a person functions across his or her lifespan.

The brain and nervous system are altered during periods of prolonged or seemingly intolerable stress (Oehlberg, 2006, Perry, 2009, Souers, & Hall, 2017). This understanding must be the framework on which all work with children and youth be structured to achieve the most substantial and sustained changes in functioning (Fescer, 2015).

The therapeutic and healing interventions that Forged in Fire seeks to develop and support in school, home, and community are based on positive psychology, trauma-informed positive behavior support, and educational neuroscience.

These interventions are strengths-based, relationship-centered, and mitigate the impact of stress and adversity on the brain and the body. (Sporleder & Forbes, 2016)

Even with a holistic and supportive environment, vulnerable children and youth will engage in behaviors that harm themselves or others. The National Education Association in 2016 adopted resolutions that specifically address discipline procedures. 

The NEA’s resolutions advocate for nurturing school environments, community and family engagement, and an end to punitive disciplinary procedures that feed the school to prison pipeline. Therefore, restorative practices are a part of the Forged in Fire Program. Proactive and preventative circles are utilized to build community and social relationships, and restorative circles and informal conferences are held when harm needs to be addressed.

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