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A Simple Way to Support Trauma-Informed Care

A Simple Way to Support Trauma-Informed Care

As a Sanctuary-certified, trauma-informed organization, we ask the people that we serve, “What happened to you?” instead of “What’s wrong with you?” This allows them — including the children brought into our care because of physical, emotional and sexual abuse — to understand that the trauma they experience is not their fault so they can begin to heal.

But not all children have a chance to heal and the unaddressed effects of trauma are enormous. These children often struggle in school and their exposure to violence and constant stress may cause them to act out, making it hard for them and their peers to learn. Trauma changes the brain. A child’s emotional and educational challenges can threaten their potential to become a productive adult and they are at risk to experience major medical and behavioral health diseases. As adults, they are more likely to contribute to another generation of stress and violence in families and communities. The economic burden from new cases of the trauma of child abuse and neglect alone is $124 billion each year.

Understanding trauma-informed principles and practices changes people, and not just the children and families we work with. The Kansas City area has been recognized for its initiatives to become trauma-informed to prevent trauma and re-traumatization in schools, workplaces, the justice system and the broader community. So when we see Congress has an opportunity to change the lives of children, youth and families who have experienced trauma, we get pretty excited. 

The Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act of 2017 has identical bills in the U.S. House (H.R. 1757) and Senate (S.774). Their sponsors recognize the impact of trauma and toxic stress on communities and the people who live in them — especially children and their development. They also recognize that children can overcome adversity to succeed and thrive, but they need help.

The legislation seeks to improve coordination and training among existing federal programs and federally supported services to identify children who have experienced trauma and provide them with immediate support. It also calls for demonstration projects to test innovative, trauma-informed approaches for delivering early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment services. It has the potential to help make all communities trauma-informed.

Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” It is also a lot less expensive for our communities to raise a resilient, productive generation In spite of its benefits and commonsense approach, the Trauma-Informed Care Act is not getting a lot of traction, having been introduced into both houses of Congress last March. 

Ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to become a cosponsor of the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act and to support it being heard by committee. Be a part of making the treatment of children and families who experience trauma part of a national dialogue while working to change lives and communities.