A bipartisan resolution “Recognizing the importance and effectiveness of trauma-informed care” (H. Res. 443) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 13 by Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and co-sponsor Danny K. Davis (D-IL).
The impetus for the resolution resides with the First Lady of Wisconsin, Tonette
Walker, who has taken a strong leadership role in advancing trauma-informed policy and practice statewide through Fostering Futures and of late with the new Administration, meeting with several members of the Trump Cabinet.
The resolution (attached) is an educational or messaging vehicle, not a bill that authorizes a program or mandates a specific action. Nevertheless, it is significant in that it is the first trauma-specific bill to be initiated by a Republican in the House with Democratic support. The resolution’s co-sponsor, Rep. Davis, is the sponsor of the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act (H.R. 1757), the House companion bill to S. 774, introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il). This comprehensive bill authorizes new programs and funding for an array of new initiatives related to trauma, as reported in ACEsTooHigh.com.
The first two “Whereas” phrases in the resolution note that traumatic experiences affect millions of people in the United States and the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), if not recognized, can affect health across the lifespan.
The resolve section concludes that the House of Representatives:
—recognizes the importance, effectiveness, and need for trauma-informed care among existing programs and agencies at the Federal level;
—encourages the use and practice of trauma-informed care within the Federal Government, its agencies, and the United States Congress; and
—supports the designation of “National Trauma Awareness Month” and the designation of a “National Trauma-Informed Awareness Day” during such month to highlight community resilience through trauma-informed change.
Three of the five pages of the resolution list 12 initiatives in nine states to promote and establish trauma-care in communities, including two in Wisconsin—Fostering Futures and the Menominee Tribe’s program to address historical trauma and childhood adversity. Programs in large and small cities and states around the country were cited as examples of trauma-informed care—Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Kansas City, MO, Tarpon Springs, FL, Worcester, MA and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Walla Walla, WA and the state of Washington ACEs Public-Private Initiative, and Oregon.
A House briefing (agenda attached) similar to a briefing held on the Senate side on May 11 will be held on trauma on July 26, sponsored by Rep. Davis to bring attention to the issue of trauma and encourage members of both parties to co-sponsor both the new resolution and H.R. 1757.
Constituent requests are influential in members of Congress’ decisions on whether to co-sponsor legislation, so you can contact your legislator if you're interested in having them co-sponsor the resolution and H.R. 1757.
"We are absolutely elated to see this resolution make its way into Congress," said Carol Howard, the director of Fostering Futures, which is based in Milwaukee. "Having Wisconsin be recognized in a federal resolution as the first trauma-informed state is a testament to the hard work of many people within Wisconsin who have worked for years go raise awareness of the importance and efficacy of trauma-informed care. We are hopeful this federal recognition will encourage similar support of trauma-informed care across the nation."
Seven Wisconsin state agencies are participating in a three-year trauma-informed learning collaborative that Fostering Futures is leading. The agencies include the Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Workforce Development. [Editor's note: Later this summer, ACEs Connection will be publishing an article about how Wisconsin is the first U.S. state to engage state agencies in a trauma-informed learning collaborative.]
Fostering Futures was organized by First Lady Walker in 2011 to raise awareness about how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) shape people's lives. So much education about ACEs has been done in Wisconsin, says Laurie Lambach, CEO at SET Ministry and, with First Lady Walker, one of the three co-founder of Fostering Futures, that there isn't a part of the state that hasn't heard about this new knowledge about human behavior. Besides the state-level trauma-informed initiative, many county and city ACEs initiatives have also been launched.