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The Sanctuary Model

At the heart of our work lies a profound reality: the trauma experienced by the children and families we serve. Understanding the impact of these experiences is crucial for creating safety and healing. The Sanctuary model is a nationally recognized framework for trauma-responsive care, and it’s the cornerstone of our culture. DABSJ began implementing the model in 2019, and was certified by the Sanctuary Institute in 2024.

Sanctuary helps people to feel safe and recover from trauma and difficult experiences. It’s not just about helping the person who went through it, but also the people and systems that support them. Understanding trauma and the way it affects people, we move from asking “what’s wrong with this person?” to instead “what happened to this person?”

The Sanctuary model makes sure that everyone, including leaders, workers, children and families, has shared commitments and ways of communicating. The main focus is to create a safe and supportive place for children and families and the workers who support them at DABSJ.

The Seven Commitments of Sanctuary:



Our children have often experienced trauma that includes violence. At DABSJ, we are committed to being safe and not hurting others, physically, emotionally, socially, or morally.


Emotional Intelligence.

Emotions and behaviors matter. They tell us a lot about ourselves, our experiences, and our relationships. We are committed to understanding and controlling our feelings so we don’t hurt others or ourselves.


Social Learning.

Many children in trauma experience feelings of isolation. Here, we collaborate and connect. We listen to and learn from each other.



This is a commitment opposing the helplessness that trauma often brings. It empowers, giving us the opportunity to make choices together and give everyone a chance to speak up.


Open Communication.

We commit to talking and sharing information with others, even if it’s hard, and being respectful.


Social Responsibility.

By having a shared sense of responsibility to one another, we build accountability and care into our community. We work together to make our agency and our world better for everyone.


Growth and Change.

In trauma, there is often repetition – reliving and continuing past harm. With a focus on the future, we can break dysfunctional patterns and create hope for children and families.

DABSJ is inclusive and welcoming – from our team members, to the children we serve, to the families we license as foster parents. You could play a part in providing homes and hope for children who need a place to be themselves.