Saturday, May 24, 2014

Innovations in Early Intervention for Childhood Trauma

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." -- Frederick Douglass

Left untreated, trauma experienced in childhood can have lifelong implications, including higher rates of addiction, incarceration, and involvement in domestic violence incidences. It's hard to imagine an intervention that could have a greater societal impact than finding ways to help children heal from trauma as effectively and as early as possible.

I was therefore pleased to learn recently, by way of an article by David Bornstein in The New York Times, about something called Head Start Trauma Smart, an innovative program in Kansas City, Missouri.

Head Start-Trauma Smart was created by the Crittenton Children's Center and, according to their website, it "provides the appropriate mental health treatment to help [3- to 5-year-old] children concentrate in school and develop social and emotional resilience to carry them into adulthood."

Another news story that caught my attention recently was a piece in The Denver Post focusing, in part, on the use of brain-science therapies with foster and at-risk children and on the efforts of state child welfare programs to ensure that such children are getting access to trauma-focused therapies.
[Colorado] State child welfare leaders are pushing to increase trauma-focused treatment. The state received a federal waiver in 2012 that allows it to divert money previously spent on foster care toward keeping children in their homes, including therapies for those children and their families. 
Part of the funds will pay for trauma-informed assessments of children to determine their therapy needs, as well as treatment. 
-- Jennifer Brown and Christopher N. Osher, "New thinking on brain-science therapies could help foster kids" 
Of course, these are just a two examples, in two states, and they raise additional questions. What other innovative programs are out there? What's happening in other states? What can be done to increase the rate of access to effective trauma-informed therapies throughout country? What can we do to help policymakers see the wisdom of investing in early trauma interventions rather than dealing with the repercussions of unhealed trauma down the road?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

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