Values and Ethos
The Network's ethos is based around a set of values and commitments that influence the development and implementation of its programs and services.
The Network integrates knowledge about trauma and healing in all programming and policies. It recognizes the symptoms of trauma in individuals and groups and uses incentives to encourage members rather than punitive measures to avoid re-traumatization.
The Network is committed to creating a healing environment for individuals to build peer support and empowerment in themselves and in their communities. The Network is built on establishing Love, Opportunity, Trust, Understanding, and Support (LOTUS), kindness, safety, and giving space for growth to ensure it is encouraging healing. The Network helps members focus not only on what happened to them but also name their strengths that helped them through their challenges.
The Network values innovation. Its research and programming, which incorporates science, policy, and the human experience, gives everyone a seat at the table to provide new solutions to old problems. The Network embraces out of the box, progressive, evolving curriculum in an effort to change the narrative around public assistance and create equity.
The Network values the partnership created with members and staff. In order to maintain a genuine relationship, the Network openly communicates expectations as well as limitations. Everyone must be informed and involved in the decision-making processes that drive the Network forward. It is important that this process is reciprocal by being open and up front with members and staff so they can speak up around policies, changes and programming.
The Network sees people as more than just their issues or cases; it looks critically and empathetically at the person as a whole. Creating an atmosphere of caring means seeing people not as a statistic but learning and understanding their past, present, and future. Through reciprocal learning, The Network continuously holds itself accountable to being sensitive, open, genuine, and critical, so that it can truly create strengths-based approaches. The Network is receptive to improvement and values the feedback provided by members through classes and Advisory Council.
The Network is accountable to taking care of itself and its members. Too often the workplace and human services place their worth on productivity; the Network places its worth on feeling whole, powerful, and confident while getting work done and reaching personal and professional goals. Network team members must constantly remind themselves that they are better co-workers, coaches, parents, and overall humans when they take care of themselves.
The Network is committed to respect. It recognizes the rights, dignity, and worth of members, whose welfare is paramount to the program. The Network strives to create an environment where everyone is free from interference, intimidation or disparagement.
Inclusivity means the intention for policies, procedures, program structure, curriculum, teaching style, staffing and environment to include considerations and safe/brave spaces for members and staff, especially people who are politically and socially marginalized. This includes, but is not limited, to those suffering from substance abuse, the recently incarcerated, people of color, LGBTQIA, people with alternative forms of income, people experiencing physical, mental, or intellectual disability, and communities who experience political and economic disinvestment. The Network welcomes criticism and feedback from groups that notice a shortcoming in this intention. The Network consistently works to be reflective and aware of its prejudices.
The Network meets people where they are; figuratively and literally. The Network believes everything starts with the people it serves. They are the experts about their experience and policies that affect them. The Network office is a safe space. The Network prides itselves on creating that safe space in every setting. The Network listens to members about the problems they experience and does not dictate to them what issues they should be concerned with. This holistic approach to problem solving emphasizes critical thinking so solutions consider the whole population, not just a segment. The Network believes in building community but realizes there is a perfectly fine community already there. It’s the Network’s goal to engage with that community and establish genuine relationships.
The empowerment that happens in The Network is coaxed from within everyone and not taught or imposed. The Network motivates members and staff to get in touch with their own hope, leadership, autonomy, finances, goals, self-efficacy, freedom, and power to mobilize themselves and communities to break the cycle of oppression.
The Network provides physical, moral, social, and emotional safety for its members and surrounding world. It embraces a culture of bravery and vulnerability with a judgement free mind set so members and staff feel safe to be themselves and share their truth without negative repercussions. The Network is also committed to the Sanctuary Model and utilizes it in all realms of the program as a stable process to justify that everyone’s feelings and experiences are valid. A just environment is vital to everyone’s safety and well-being.
The Network is actively changing systems of oppression inside the welfare system and beyond. The program cannot exist in a vacuum and if it wants to have trauma informed, healing centered, peer oriented spaces nation-wide that respect everyone’s dignity, goals, and identity, the Network needs to change the intersectional oppressive systems of institutional racism, sexism, classism, transphobia, islamophobia, ageism, homophobia, etc.
The Network ethos is centered around seven commitments developed based on those of Sanctuary model but were reimagined through the context of financial self-empowerment.
The Network commits to value everyone’s opinion and manage it with healthy authority in the following ways: being clear when there are opportunities for everyone’s input/decisions and being transparent with trust in leaders to make the best decisions based on experience and knowledge.
The Network commits to understand each other’s levels of safety and violence in social, moral, emotional, and physical ways and hold everyone to the commitment of maintaining these safe and nonviolent environments.
The Network commits to respecting people’s different emotional processes and adjusting accordingly. The Network pushes each other to share, listen, and better our own and each other’s emotional management and safety.
Each member of the Network team has commitment to help others feel a part of the team and promote positive relationships and environment for everyone. All members are responsible for shared space and culture whether it concerns them directly or not. In the commitment for a better society, Network members need to make sure they are living Network values in the day to day work.
The Network team learns and uses conflict management and promotes healthy (in person and electronic) communication. The Network compliments and celebrates each other regularly and addresses conflict or tension on a regular basis if needed. The work team will be open to feedback to improve the work and themselves and recognize everyone’s different communication styles and needs.
The Network team will teach each other what they know and also engage together with new knowledge and push each other to learn. The Network will include members in learning.
Growth and Change
The Network commits to allow space to grow/change and allows time to adjust to new situations, with the support of others.