Stable Moments® is a one-on-one mentorship program developing life skills in foster and adopted youth for healthy transitions into adulthood. The 10-month program utilizes a trauma informed approach and equine assisted learning to help with complex trauma and develop life skills based on individualized plans of care for each child. Early and consistent intervention is an upstream solution to the U.S. foster care crisis.

 

There are more than 400,000 children in US foster care and over 6,000 in Oklahoma without a permanent place to live. Children come into foster care due to abuse, abandonment or neglect and are at a higher risk of becoming incarcerated, pregnant, addicted to drugs, and dependents of state benefits. Without addressing their complex trauma needs, these children often repeat the cycle of their parents, and their children enter the system as well.

 

Evidence suggests that the single most effective way to build resilience in children with complex trauma needs, is one, consistent, long-term relationship with a healthy adult. Ending the foster care crisis begins with each individual child - meeting them where they are, understanding their experience, and developing their self-worth, sense of purpose, decision making, executive functioning and self-regulation skills. Stable Moments® is a 10-month, weekly mentorship program where long lasting, healthy relationships are formed, and life skills are developed that foster healthy transitions into adulthood.

 

The Stable Moments® program uses an evidence-based, trauma-informed curriculum. While it only requires one full time staff member to be certified in the model, each child gets their own volunteer mentor and horse to work with. The program is hosted at an equine facility offering a tranquil environment for children to focus on their unique program goals. 

 

Enrollment in the program starts with an intake assessment where unique history, strengths, and challenges are discussed. This information is used to develop an individualized plan of care, that assigns life skill goals for mentor and mentee to work toward. The Stable Moments® model is built on six life skill categories that are color coded so mentors can choose activities that match colors from the plan of care, without understanding the therapeutic nature of each activity. This makes kids actively engaged in sessions, rather than feeling like they’re in therapy. Each kid also gets a brush bag and a personalized key chain, important for developing feelings of belonging for foster kids who often need to carry their belongings in a trash bag. Each mentor session follows a three-part plan which kids help develop to promote further engagement. Mentors write activity logs to ensure they’re working toward their plan of care goals and pre- and post-tests evaluate life skill development in youth.

Through our one-on-one, trauma informed mentorship approach, youth who have had to live in survival mode, are able to develop trust with a healthy adult. Once trust is established, our activities focus on showing kids they are inherently valuable, increasing their self-worth and emotional awareness. The farm environment and interaction with the horses, helps them to develop self-regulation skills and independence.

 

Learning these valuable skills in sessions at the farm, with their mentor, gives them a reference point, for when they’re struggling outside of sessions. Participants can translate their new skills to home, school and community settings. This allows them to have better social relationships, improve their academic performance and feel a greater sense of belonging and responsibility to their community.

 

Ending the treacherous cycle of kids in foster care who have kids that also go into foster care, starts with investing in the individual child. Complex trauma in young children impacts brain development, and only a consistent, trauma informed approach can help heal underdeveloped parts of the brain we need for social, emotional and cognitive functioning. It seems simple but helping kids believe they matter is the first step in creating adults that care about who they become and how they contribute. We show them they matter by showing up for them, time and time again, with a structured, proven model.