Expanding Services to Trauma-Exposed Children in Kentucky Military Families

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2012)— Researchers in the University of Kentucky Center on Trauma and Children are working to improve services to children who have been exposed to trauma, especially in military families.

Supported by a $1.6 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the researchers are conducting a four-year project to expand the activities of the Child and Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training Institute (CATTTI) into the child welfare and community mental health systems in areas of the state that serve military families associated with Fort Knox and Fort Campbell.

The principal investigator on the project is Ginny Sprang, Buckhorn Endowed Professor of Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health and executive director of the Center on Trauma and Children (CTAC). Co-investigators are Carlton Craig, Vernon R. Wiehe Endowed Professor in Family Violence, and Michele Staton-Tindall, associate professor in the UK College of Social Work. Heather Risk, will operate as the project coordinator for the grant.

CATTTI is a multidisciplinary, university-community collaboration housed at UK's Center on Trauma and Children, a part of the College of Social Work. The mission of CATTTI is to facilitate child and family recovery from psychological trauma through statewide service delivery, to test the efficacy of interventions designed to treat traumatic stress conditions, and to increase the capacity of the mental health community to provide services that are empirically-based and culturally relevant.

This mission is undertaken in partnership with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the judiciary and community stakeholders. This project builds on an already nationally-recognized child assessment and treatment center in Kentucky, and is the clinical nucleus for clinical training, research, and dissemination of trauma informed evidence-based practices in Kentucky.

Clinical associates of CATTTI will be selected and trained to deliver different modes of trauma-focused therapy. A longitudinal research study will determine the effectiveness of these treatments in terms of symptom reduction and functional improvement across a number of domains. 

As a parallel activity, CATTTI personnel will use a learning collaborative model of dissemination to provide training to child welfare workers in the same areas of the state using the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit, developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

This parallel process of training, mentoring and support of community mental health practitioners and child welfare workers will coincide with model court programs in these areas led by the state’s Administrative Office of the Court. 

"The confluence of these resources into targeted regions will facilitate the adoption of culturally-relevant best practices," said Sprang, who is also the current Co-Chair of the National Secondary Traumatic Stress Committee of the NCTSN. "It will allow trauma-informed practices to become formally institutionalized,  into child welfare, community mental health and family/dependency court systems. This significantly increases the likelihood of ongoing integration and investment in trauma-informed care beyond the grant period."

NCTSN was established by Congress in 2000 and is funded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services through the Donald J. Cohen National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. The network seeks to bring a "singular and comprehensive focus" to childhood trauma. Combining knowledge of child development, expertise in the full range of child traumatic experiences, and dedication to evidence-based practices, the NCTSN changes the course of children’s lives by changing the course of their care.

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