From Shannon Lipscomb, PhD, and Brianne Kothari, PhD, Oregon State University-Cascades
As active participants in TRACEs, we envision a Central Oregon where everyone has the strengths, social supports and community resources they need to thrive. Ultimately, we envision this for all people regardless of where they live. Central Oregon can help pave the way for communities everywhere to nurture resilience and address adversity. We hope to contribute by sharing our process and lessons learned thus far about shared measurement.
TRACEs stands for Trauma, Resilience and Adverse Childhood Experiences. Employing a collective impact approach,  TRACEs partners work together across sectors to address ACEs and nurture resilience of all people in Central Oregon. Partners from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes counties are making resilience a collective priority as they meet the unique needs of their communities.
People have so many ways of being resilient. A high school student earns strong grades and graduates despite having experienced abuse and parent incarceration. A single mom pursues a productive career after years of family violence. A young child whose mother suffers from depression enters kindergarten ready to succeed. Resilience is defined as positive adaptation or outcome in the face of adversity.  All people are capable of being resilient. Contrary to some popular beliefs, resilience is not something that resides within an individual. It is so much more than grit or perseverance. Resilience is strengthened through supportive relationships with family and friends and communities in which people feel they belong and are valued. [3,4]
Using common measure(s) of success is critical for Collective Impact efforts to achieve meaningful change.  Here in Central Oregon we see shared measurement as a powerful way to understand our communities, track progress, and celebrate successes!
Shared measurement is at the forefront of TRACEs Central Oregon. This spring we launched an Outcomes and Impacts Learning Community, with over 40 attendees in March and 90 by June. We aim to identify strengths we have in common across our large and diverse region, and also highlight unique strengths of particular communities. By using the same measures we can share lessons learned and increase our impact.
Our TRACEs shared measures are the Child and Youth Resilience Measure and Adult Resilience Measure (CYRM/ARM). They measure positive individual, relational, and community factors that help people overcome adversity. These surveys for ages 5 years through adult have versions of different lengths and complexity. They can be self-report, or completed by a parent or caregiver. The CYRM/ARM were developed in communities across the globe and have been used in many languages. We are pilot testing a version for use with preschool-aged children.
Through an emerging research partnership between TRACEs and Oregon State University-Cascades we identified the shared measures and launched a learning community to try them out. We conducted a thorough review of existing measures for protective factors and resilience. We recommended the CYRM/ARM because they are valid, relatively simple, were developed with a culturally responsive approach, and have various versions for flexible administration across ages and contexts.
This spring we embarked on a goal of up to 10 “early adopter” TRACEs partners to pilot the use of the CYRM/ARM with staff and/or clients. The enthusiasm was overwhelming, and by June we had begun to support over 20 partners to pilot the measures in contexts such as child care, dentistry, K-12 schools, home visiting, parenting education, substance abuse prevention, and a wide array of other non-profits serving children, youth, adults, and families. In response to limited data capacity within many of these organizations, we are collaborating with Better Together, the regional cradle to career initiative and strong TRACEs partner, to create online platforms to support all partners to use their own data and to contribute to region-wide measurement. This ambitious endeavor requires much more funding than we have had during this initial pilot effort. Abundant momentum and early wins indicate that further investment is likely to pay off.
An Enthusiastic Learning Community
This is the first community-wide effort of which we are aware to measure factors to promote resilience across counties, ages and sectors. Partners have begun sharing their successes and challenges through the Outcomes and Impacts Learning Community. New task forces have emerged, led by TRACEs partners eager to help drive the work forward. Topics include cultural and linguistic responsiveness, use of individual scores, and priorities for region-wide data analysis.
From what we’ve observed and heard so far, people are inspired by the strengths-based approach. The focus on protective factors that promote resilience helps to keep solutions at the forefront. Partners have also appreciated that the resilience surveys are relatively short, easy to implement, and often complement data they already collect.
Other key learnings are 1) large variation in partners’ capacity and comfort with data requires tailored supports, 2) partners must develop a plan for how to support individuals who rate low on even strengths-based measures such as the CYRM/ARM, and 3) shared measurement takes dedicated investment of time and resources, transparency, and consensus building.
The enthusiasm for measuring strengths and learning together is tangible. We are excited to work with the new task forces and community partners at the fall meeting. We are grateful to be part of such a vibrant community committed to nurturing resilience in Central Oregon.
Shannon Lipscomb, PhD, is Associate Professor and Program Lead for Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University-Cascades. Dr. Lipscomb conducts research on resilience among children and families facing adversity. With a focus on early learning, she also develops and evaluates preventive interventions.
Brianne Kothari, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University-Cascades. Dr. Kothari’s research focuses on children and youth in foster care, and designing, implementing, and evaluating developmentally appropriate, family systems focused interventions.