CU, Mental Health Partners receive $2M to treat children, families affected by trauma
Mental Health Partners and the University of Colorado's Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence have been awarded a $2 million grant to bolster services for Boulder and Broomfield county children and families that have experienced some form of trauma.
The five-year grant, awarded by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, will go toward building a "Trauma Center of Excellence" and will help train nearly 1,000 mental health and other professionals across the state in trauma-informed therapy methods.
"The bottom line is increasing capacity at Mental Health Partners to be able to serve child survivors of sexual abuse, violence and other traumas," said Janine D'Anniballe, director of trauma services at Mental Health Partners.
At the moment, there are just a handful of clinicians who are trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, a highly effective form of treatment for traumatized children and their caregivers, D'Anniballe said.
With help and training from researchers at CU, Mental Health Partners hopes to be able to spread clinicians trained in trauma-focused therapy across its locations in Boulder, Longmont, Broomfield and Lafayette.
"Unfortunately, (trauma) is just an epidemic problem," D'Anniballe said. "It's a pervasive issue and often these cases can be difficult to treat because there's a lot going on with the child or with the family. So this model really grounds clinicians in knowing what to do and how to do it effectively."
The organization will focus on three underserved populations along the Front Range: Hispanic children and families, military families and families involved with the child welfare system.
The grant will also help create a system at Mental Health Partners to screen and assess children for indicators of trauma and other behavioral health needs. The system will also help match children with the appropriate treatments and providers.
"Trauma exposure is really prevalent but we can only learn about potentially traumatic events if we can do screenings," said Monica Fitzgerald, a clinical psychologist and senior research associate at the CU Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence. "We're talking about trauma including child abuse, interfamilial violence but also those other types of traumatic events that many people experience — it can be car accidents, it can be dog bites, sudden death or loss. That doesn't mean everyone needs treatment but we're trying to identify the folks that do."
Another key component of the grant is support for a statewide training initiative led by CU faculty that's been underway since 2010.
With the funding, CU clinicians can begin training mental health professional around the state in several additional types of treatments, including culturally modified therapy for Hispanic families and therapy for adult caregivers with post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.
CU clinicians will also be able to train other professionals who serve as brokers for mental health services for children and families, such as people who work in the juvenile criminal justice system or the child welfare system.
"We'll provide training and consultations and support to professionals that are out there serving children and families in Colorado," Fitzgerald said.