U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) (above) delivered a strong and passionate call to address childhood adversity to reap a “huge payback” in combating addiction, family violence, and poor education -- the “challenges that confront American families.” [For a video of the briefing, click here. It begins at 17:13 minutes with the first presentation by Andrea Blanch. The sound improves at 23:11 minutes when Sen. Heitkamp's remarks begin.]
The July 14th event was the second of three congressional briefings on trauma sponsored by Heitkamp and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP). Heitkamp acknowledged the sparse turnout due to the next day’s recess (timed in part to allow participation in the national political conventions), but was nonetheless enthusiastic in her call to action.
The first congressional briefing on trauma in May focused on the science of trauma. This briefing covered trauma-informed programs, educational efforts, and practices that are working across the country and could be replicated on other communities. The third briefing planned for September will address how policy should reflect what science reveals about the impact of trauma and what practices are demonstrating effectiveness.
Dr. Andrea Blanch, independent trauma consultant and CTIPP co-chair with Dr. Sandra L. Bloom, opened the session. She provided a brief historical overview of trauma, addressed where we are now and where we are going, and described emerging practices across the nation. Other presenters included Marsha Morgan, Kansas City Trauma-Informed Community Initiative and Mary Rolando, Department of Children’s Services, Tennessee. Some of the highlights from their talks are summarized here (see attached slides):
-- described evidence-based interventions for both trauma treatment and prevention, including specific examples such as Trauma-focused CBT for treatment and the Nurse Family Partnership for prevention;
-- provided an overview of widespread interest and uptake, giving several examples including the growth of membership (10,000+) in ACEsConnection.com;
-- described state and local leadership examples including Peace4Tarpon, the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, and Self-Healing Communities in Washington State;
-- listed eight characteristics of trauma-informed communities, saying every community is unique and all initiatives are built on the science of trauma and resilience;
-- concluded with a description of the goals of the new national organization, the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP).
-- described in detail “The Missouri Model: A Developmental Framework for Trauma-Informed”;
-- provided examples being used in Kansas City involving the Chamber of Commerce and the police department (crisis intervention teams receive training to help individuals with mental illness, build resilience, survive secondary trauma);
-- covered the role of learning collaboratives and professional development in state departments of mental health, social services, and corrections
-- outlined what is needed in the future, including funding for first responder training, financial support for trauma-informed outcomes research, and promotion of trauma-informed practices in higher education in fields such as education, healthcare and law.
-- described how “Building Strong Brains: Tennessee’s ACEs Initiative,” aims to ensure all Tennessee children thrive and all citizens prosper;
-- outlined how it is important to show that this approach has a positive return on investment;
-- traced the history of the trauma movement in Tennessee that began with a parenting program in Shelby County (Memphis) and grew to a statewide effort including the governor, high level state officials, and others. A major, well-publicized summit was held in November 2015;
-- described the process of building grassroots support and involvement, including how to communicate about trauma based in part on the recommendations from FrameWorks Institute;
-- identified existing programs and sustainable funding sources to support effective ways to support children, families, and communities both at the state and federal levels;
-- concluded that the initiative is in the early stages. “It is not a sprint. It is a marathon,” she said. Major funding sources such as Medicaid (TennCare) should reflect what is known about brain development. Small infusions of support such as the governor’s $1.25 million budget item for ACEs-related activities are also important.
The third and final briefing in this series by Heitkamp and CTIPP is planned for September and will focus on what policy changes are needed to support ACEs prevention and mitigation.