Who We Are
Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHBG) is a nonprofit organization that has been serving children in crisis since 1846. We are no longer an orphanage but provide transitional living services, specialized education, and therapeutic resources to youth with emotional and behavioral health concerns.
Program fees paid for with public dollars only cover a portion of what is needed to provide the trauma-informed care children in crisis require. Nearly 50% of VHBG’s budget is supported by philanthropic dollars and other sources of income. Community volunteers play a critical role in supporting the organization’s needs.
At VHBG, our mission is to help children across Virginia with emotional and behavioral health concerns by facilitating the healing process using a relationship-based, cognitive-behavioral approach. The trauma-informed care youth receive in our group homes, independent living apartments, specialized K-12 school (John G. Wood), and therapeutic resource center restores hope to them and their families who then find the courage to thrive.
What We Believe
We believe all children deserve to grow up surrounded by a loving, nurturing family. All children deserve encouragement, protection, and a sense of belonging that comes from supportive adult relationships in a healthy family environment and a safe supportive community. After all, a healthy family is critical to every child’s ability to live a successful life.
Virginia Home for Boys and Girls uses a trauma-informed approach in alignment with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s concept of a trauma-informed organization. For more than 20 years, SAMHSA has been a leader in recognizing the need for trauma-informed systems of care. This framework follows four key assumptions in providing trauma-informed care: realization, recognition, response, and resisting re-traumatization.
VHBG trains our employees to realize the widespread impact of trauma (including facts about Adverse Childhood Experiences, which are pervasive in our clients, and the impact of trauma on brain development and behavior) and understand potential paths for recovery such as the importance of relationships, voice and choice, empowerment, learning self-regulation, and learning skills of competency.
We recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved in the system. We ask, “what happened to this person?” and “what underlying need is this person trying to meet with this behavior?” instead of “what’s wrong with this person?”
We respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and trained practices. In interactions with clients, we focus on safety, relationship building, the professionalism of our staff, the teaching of social and emotional skills in collaborative ways, shared decision making, and individualized care. We meet routinely as teams in order to share observations, celebrate successes, and plan interventions. We protect staff members from vicarious trauma by restricting their workload and work hours, and by meeting routinely with them one-on-one for supportive supervision and conceptual development. We conduct objective evaluations of staff practices and implementation of training, including interviewing clients regarding their satisfaction with how they are treated and the safety of those around them.
We seek to actively resist re-traumatization, especially during crisis intervention. We focus on empathy, praise, and connecting with the emotional brain so as to help clients regulate their own behavior. And finally, we use least-restrictive restraints only as a last resort when safety is at stake.