In the late afternoon on Feb. 26, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H. Res. 443, a resolution recognizing the importance and effectiveness of trauma-informed care and calling for a national trauma awareness month and trauma-informed awareness day.
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 has elevated the issue among high level officials in the Administration and in states across the country through the governors and first spouses.
Most recently, Mrs. Walker presented on the Wisconsin experience at a session of First Spouses at the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. She also will participate in a trauma forum, sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on May 10 in Washington, DC. The event—part of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day—will include a “virtual” town hall meeting to allow officials and advocates across the country to participate.
In statements on the floor of the House, the key sponsor, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and co-sponsor, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) both recognized the important role played by Mrs. Walker nationally. Rep. Gallagher also said in his opening statement: “House Res. 443 recognizes the importance of trauma-informed care to individual wellness, the efficacy of care, and improved quality of life for those who have experienced trauma. Passage of this resolution demonstrates that this body believes in the power that trauma-informed care can have in helping children, families, and adults overcome trauma and lead healthy lives.”
While the bill does not authorize a specific program or include mandates, it provides a vehicle for education and demonstrates the growing knowledge of and support for trauma-informed practices. It provides a foundational document for consideration of authorizing legislation and a vehicle for communicating the non-partisan nature of trauma-informed approaches.
The passage of the resolution is particularly significant in a time of highly polarized partisan dynamics in the Congress. When the bill was introduced this summer, Elizabeth Hudson, Director of Children’s Mental Health in Wisconsin and trauma leader, said it is “gratifying to see that decades of advocacy by survivors and advocates can culminate in this recognition, especially at this point in our political history.”
First hand experience of the value of trauma services for survivors was described in Rep. Davis’ floor statement when he said: “Very seldom do I talk about it or mention it, but I had a grandson who was murdered a year or so ago, and there were other children in the home. It was a home invasion. So I can tell people firsthand that the kind of attention and care that individuals get after they have had a traumatic experience makes a tremendous amount of difference in their recovery.” The Congressional Record with floor statements by Rep. Davis, Rep. Gallagher, and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX, Ranking member of the Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce Committee), is attached. Click here for a video of their remarks on the floor.
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) has introduced the companion bill in the Senate (Sen. Res. 346) with bi-partisan cosponsors. One Senate sponsor is Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) who has been a longtime and passionate champion for trauma-informed policy and practice and authored, along with Sen. Durbin (D-IL), the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act (S. 774). Rep. Davis introduced the House companion, H.R. 1757.