Our Approach

All Good Shepherd programs are designed using an approach that integrates youth and family development strategies and trauma-informed practices. This holistic, strength-based approach is supported by a substantial body of research on interventions that successfully promote well-being, mitigate the impacts of poverty and improve social mobility. Studies of youth and family development demonstrate that the most effective programs support fundamental aspects of social and emotional development by building a sense of participatory identity, and nurturing growth, contribution and mastery. Neuroscientific advances have shown that trauma resulting from adverse life experiences can disrupt the brain’s architecture, with long-term consequences for learning and social and emotional health. However, and equally pivotal to Good Shepherd’s programs, these studies have also shown that timely responsive interventions and supports can protect against and even reverse negative outcomes, essentially reshaping the life trajectories of people who experience such adversity.

Good Shepherd’s agency-wide approach brings together these insights from human development and trauma research. Within each program, additional evidence-based/-informed models, interventions, and practices such as AIM, Circle of Courage, KEEP, Parenting through Chance, Parenting Journey, The Sanctuary Model and Solution-Based Casework have also been incorporated to further increase our efficacy.

Youth and Family Development Approach

We believe in the inherent value and strength of youth and families. Our strength-based and evidence-informed approach builds on existing competencies, while recognizing the importance of meeting developmental needs. We embrace a holistic view of youth and families to promote wellbeing, learning, growth and change.

We value and build caring and trusting relationships.

We create safe and welcoming spaces.

We inspire growth and change through engaging activities.

We have high expectations of ourselves and others.

We promote opportunities for contributions and leadership.

We offer paths forward through connections and consistency.

We invest in a strong mission-driven organizational structure.



When we embody the core values of Youth and Family Development in our work, we are inherently practicing trauma-informed care. This approach is responsive to the impact of trauma and raises the standard of care by promoting wellness and healing in individuals, families, and communities.

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