The Sanctuary Model is a non-hierarchical, highly participatory, “trauma-informed and evidence-supported” operating system for human services organizations, which helps them function in a humane, democratic and socially responsible manner and thereby provide effective treatment for clients in a clinical setting. The model is entirely congruent with restorative practices, in that it is about working with people instead of doing things to them or for them.

Not a specific treatment intervention, the Sanctuary Model provides a structure and common language for people in human services fields to communicate and collaborate with each other. Said Dr. Sandra Bloom, developer of the model: “Social workers, psychiatrists and nurses don’t share a common way of working with clients. The Sanctuary Model gets everybody on the same trauma-informed page.”

Bloom is founder and “guiding light” of the Sanctuary Institute at Andrus Children’s Center, in Yonkers, New York, USA (http://andruschildren.org/?page_id=836), associate professor of Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health and codirector of the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice (www.nonviolenceandsocialjustice.org), at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She summed up the Sanctuary Model:

Most clients who present to human service delivery organizations have been exposed to significant adversity, chronic stress, and frequently overwhelming trauma. … [But] they cannot heal within the context of traumatizing — or traumatized — organizations that may actually create more, not less pathology. The goal of the Sanctuary Model is to facilitate the development of an organizational culture that can contain, manage, and help transform the terrible life experiences that have molded — and often deformed — the clients in care. But no one person can change an organizational culture — at least not for the better. Living systems are comprised of living people who tend to support what they help to create — and who fail to support change efforts that exclude them.

The Gordon family (names are fictitious), of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA, recently experienced a life-affirming restorative process — a family group decision-making (FGDM) conference (also called family group conferencing or FGC). The family (four young adult children — two boys and two girls — their divorced parents, Linda and Bob, as well as several members of their extended family) came together in an FGDM conference to help 17-year-old son Sam take better control of his life. The process worked extremely well for Sam, but what the family didn’t expect, they said, was that the FGDM would also enhance their connections and relationships in many other ways.

During the past year, Sam started using drugs and alcohol, hanging out with fellow “users” in school and buying and selling marijuana. He had trouble sharing his feelings, had problems with self-esteem and, according to his father, started making rash decisions and looking for instant gratification. “My son is a good, bright kid,” said Sam’s father. “He is very talented. The stuff he got involved with was really stupid.” Sam’s actions ultimately led to his involvement in a car accident and arrest on DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges related to marijuana use.

Deanna L. Webb earned a Master of Restorative Practices and Education in June 2009 at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School, through the one-year FastTrack program. She is an eighth-grade special education teacher at a middle school in Easton, Pennsylvania, USA.

When I graduated from college with a degree in special education, I was prepared to offer students specially designed instruction, program modifications and a variety of teaching techniques to match their individual learning styles, as well as tools and techniques they could use to be successful with academics. What I was not prepared for, however, was the need to fill in the blanks in their lives that were not a part of the typical academic school environment. This became especially evident when I began teaching in the emotional support setting. My students all lacked a sense of community, and consequently they also lacked a sense of accountability. During my first few years as a teacher in this setting, I struggled to connect with students and to keep them engaged in the school environment. Some students did very well, but I was unable to reach others. The tools I acquired in IIRP classes and then used in my classroom allowed me to build community and teach accountability and respect to a very challenging population of students.

On October 21-23, 2009, nearly three hundred education, social service, criminal justice professionals and others from 15 countries and 18 U.S. states met in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, for the 12th IIRP World Conference, “Restoring Community in a Disconnected World, Part 2.”

Besides the plenary sessions, the conference consisted of participants sharing their work in “breakout” sessions. All plenary-session and many breakout-session papers are on our website, here.

Intellectually stimulating and soul-nourishing, the conference was a celebration of restorative practices created by everyone who attended, whether or not they presented a session. Coverage of the plenary sessions and a random selection of breakout sessions follows:

Ana Bermudez, director of juvenile justice programs for The Children’s Aid Society of New York City, works with youth from some of the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. When she started with Children’s Aid in 2007, Bermudez knew that a restorative approach would be critical, and she has infused the practices throughout the initiatives she oversees, saying, “I was not going to run any of the programs here without a restorative focus.”

Each year, Children’s Aid serves 150,000 children and families at locations throughout the city, providing services ranging from job training and academic support to health care and family counseling. Bermudez heads the agency’s Lasting Investments in Neighborhood Connections (LINC) program, which helps formerly incarcerated youth transition back to their community. She also supervises the Next Generation Center in the South Bronx, a LINC site that provides recreational and educational programs — and a haven in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and violence.

LINC clients are mostly 14- to 17-year-old lower-income black or Latino males with what Bermudez calls a “fragmented education history” and low literacy levels. Their offenses vary; many have been incarcerated for misdemeanors such as vandalism.

On October 21-23, 2009, nearly three hundred educators, social service,criminal justice and other professionals from 15 countries and 18 U.S.states gathered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, for the 12th IIRPWorld Conference, "Restoring Community in a Disconnected World, Part2." Like all IIRP conferences, the event was acclaimed by attendees asa wonderful opportunity to support each other’s efforts and sharesuccess stories and questions around restorative practices

Paper by Frank Früchtel, presented in a plenary session at "Restoring Community in a Disconnected World Part 2," the IIRP''s 12th International Institute for Restorative Practices World Conference, October 21-23, 2008, Bethlehem, PA, USA.

Paper by Wilma Derksen, presented in a plenary session at "Restoring Community in a Disconnected World Part 2," the IIRP''s 12th International Institute for Restorative Practices World Conference, October 21-23, 2008, Bethlehem, PA, USA.

Paper by Estelle MacDonald, presented in a plenary session at "Restoring Community in a Disconnected World Part 2," the IIRP''s 12th International Institute for Restorative Practices World Conference, October 21-23, 2008, Bethlehem, PA, USA.

Paper by Howard Zehr, presented in a plenary session at "Restoring Community in a Disconnected World Part 2," the IIRP''s 12th International Institute for Restorative Practices World Conference, October 21-23, 2008, Bethlehem, PA, USA.