By Laura Braden Quigley, Director of Communications and Outreach
CTIPP CAN and other advocates are encouraged to urge their Representative in the U.S. House to sign onto a bipartisan letter (see full text enclosed*) that supports robust funding for several trauma-mitigating programs in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education FY 2024 Appropriations bill:
New Interagency Task Force (authorized by P.L. 115-271) charged with setting a national strategy for a coordinated federal response to trauma;
New grants to expand evidence-based trauma support services in schools authorized by P.L. 115-271;
National Child Traumatic Stress Network to improve treatment and services for children and families who have experienced trauma; and
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help communities understand and prevent adverse experiences.
The bipartisan letter has been organized by Congressmembers Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), and Bryan Steil (WI-01).
We also want to thank co-signers: Congressmember Bass; Blunt Rochester; Bowman; Davids; Dean; Delgado; Fitzpatrick; S. García (TX); Hayes; Holmes Norton; Horsford; Langevin; Larson; McEachin; Panetta; Pressley; Rush; Sarbanes; Slotkin; and Yarmuth. If any are your representatives, consider emailing them your appreciation for their leadership.
Childhood traumatic stress remains a pressing public health issue that disproportionately affects marginalized communities, and we must take steps to address it.
Before the pandemic, studies showed that as many as 80 percent of children and adolescents were exposed to traumatic events such as mental illness, parental substance abuse or incarceration, and domestic violence.
Around one-third of high school students report having poor mental health, and many reports facing emotional and physical violence at home. Sadly, the epidemic has only made these problems worse. More needs to be done to avoid and lessen the consequences, and research shows that trauma-informed strategies can successfully boost children's and families' resilience.
Ask your Congressmember to sign today! The deadline to sign is March 17, 2023.
*NOTE: The bipartisan group of Congressmembers is gathering signatures via an internal system (called Quill) that is only accessible to Congressional offices, so we have enclosed the full text of the letter:
Thank you for your continued leadership to strengthen the health and well-being of our youth and families as evidenced by increased funding for trauma-related programs in Fiscal Year 2023, including:
$2 million for second-time funding for the Interagency Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care;
$12 million in first-time funding for the Trauma Support Services in Schools grants;
an increase in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network to $94 million; and
an increase in the Adverse Childhood Experiences study at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Injury Prevention to $9 million
As you consider the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education FY 2024 Appropriations bill, we write to express our strong support for provisions related to trauma-informed care.
Childhood traumatic stress continues to be one of the most pressing public health issues impacting our communities. Pre-pandemic, studies showed that as many as 80 percent of children and adolescents were exposed to traumatic events (e.g., mental illness, parental substance abuse or incarceration, domestic violence), with many exposed to multiple traumatic events.
Exposure to adverse experiences are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood. Adverse experiences can also negatively impact education and job opportunities. Children who have experienced four serious negative experiences are two times as likely not to complete high school, ten times more likely to misuse drugs, and 12 times more likely to commit suicide than children who did not experience any serious adverse experiences.
According to the recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year. The new analyses also describe some of the severe challenges youth encountered during the pandemic:
More than half (55.1%) reported they experienced emotional abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including swearing at, insulting, or putting down the student.
11.3% experienced physical abuse by a parent or other adult in the home, including hitting, beating, kicking, or physically hurting the student.
More than a quarter (28.5%) reported a parent or other adult in their home lost a job.
Children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of disasters, including public health emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic, given their developmental challenges and emergency response that often overlooks children’s unique needs. Fortunately, research shows that there are approaches and interventions that can effectively prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma. We offer strong support for the following provisions:
Implementation of an Interagency Task Force to Identify and Disseminate Best Practices within Federal Grant Programs to Implement a Coordinated Response to Trauma. To improve the Federal response to families affected by trauma, P.L. 115-271 directed the establishment of an interagency Task Force to make recommendations regarding best practices to identify, prevent, and mitigate the effects of trauma on infants, children, youth, and their families. The Task Force is developing a set of best practices regarding prevention strategies, identification of trauma, community-based practices, and state- and local-level partnerships to support children and their families.
Funding to Improve Community-Based Treatment and Services for Children and Families Who Have Experienced Trauma. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCSTN) develops and promotes effective, evidence-based community practices for children and adolescents exposed to a wide array of traumatic events. The network includes 100 funded and over 150 affiliate centers located nationwide in universities, hospitals, and community-based organizations with thousands of national and local partners. According to the NCTSN Collaborative Change Project, the NCTSN grantees help about 35,000 children, adolescents and their families each quarter. Among those served, seventy percent reported positive functioning at six months.
Funding for Adverse Childhood Experiences Prevention and Research. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Injury Prevention conducts surveillance, prevention, and research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The research supports the Preventing ACEs Data to Action grant that helps communities understand and prevent adverse experiences by helping communities and local health departments coordinate to positively improve the environments of children and families, thereby reducing childhood adversities. When CDC funded six state-level entities in 2020, there was great interest in the original grant announcement, with over 30 applicants. Every $1 million increase in funding allows 2 additional states to benefit from this important work.
Implementation of New Grants to Expand Evidence-Based Trauma Support Services in Schools. Nearly every school has students who have been exposed to traumatic experiences. Section 7134 of P.L. 115-271 created new grants to expand evidence-based trauma support services in schools to improve access to research-supported interventions. Although these programs repeatedly demonstrate their success in helping children, very few schools in the nation have trauma-focused programs. FY22 included first-time funds within the increase for Project AWARE for these evidence-based, culturally relevant, trauma support services and mental health care grants.
Trauma-informed approaches promote resiliency in our young people and families. With national suicide and mental health disorder rates in youth continuing to rise, we ask for your leadership to invest in the tools to identify, understand, address, and mitigate the effects of trauma on children and families. Thank you for your consideration of this request.