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PressOn: Trauma-Informed Movement Gaining Momentum


Dan Press came to PressOn with information that was shared in the July 11th hearing with the House Oversight and Reform Committee led by the late Chairman Elijah Cummings. We also discussed how comprehensive legislation can be passed in bunches, and we can pass laws that help change how schools handle students who have experienced traumatic experiences, which will lower costs, therefore moving trauma-sensitive practices into other sectors as well. Dan also shared his ideas on how to reach the vision to reduce the number of ACEs in 10 years by 50%.


Intro: Elijah Cummings passed away last Thursday morning at the age of 68. He was an amazing man who spent his entire life fighting for those who were marginalized and voiceless in our society. He listened to Martin Luther King, Jr. as a boy, and grew up to embody those principles and faithfully and respectfully work toward equity and justice. This was going to be his last term in Congress, even if he was still alive.

In his role as the Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, he not only helped lead toward impeachment proceedings of President Trump, but was also a champion of the trauma-informed movement. On July 11, Chairman Cummings held a hearing called, Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma: A Pervasive Public Health Issue that Needs Greater Federal Attention. During that meeting, Chairman Cummings shared a personal anecdote from his own childhood. From Kindergarten until 6th grade, he had been placed in a special education classroom and was told he would never read or write. He reminded everyone that, “it’s not the deed we do to the children, it’s the memory.”

He was not the only person at that meeting who vulnerably shared adversity they had faced during childhood that day; however, he is the one who created the platform for one of the most powerful legislative hearings in recent memory. As our guest on today’s episode of Press On, Dan Press, has said since that meeting, it is the only time in his memory where those presenting received a standing ovation from members of Congress. Dan Press is the Pro Bono Advisor for the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy & Practice, also referred to as CTIPP. For over 40 years, Dan has provided legal and Washington representation assistance to Native American tribes, Native American organizations, and companies doing business with tribes. Welcome to the podcast and thank you for joining me today, Dan.

Dan, will you please share some of the work you and Chairman Cummings did together? What made the July 11th hearing groundbreaking and where has the trauma-informed movement been heading in the time since?

Dan has been working on a big vision paper with members of CTIPP’s board, as well as other experts in the field. Can you share what the purpose of this big vision is?

What is the ultimate goal of this big vision paper?

What will it take to ultimately pass comprehensive legislation at the federal level?

What is the big vision?

Conclusion: During the first episode of Press On with Sandy Bloom and Diane Wagenhals, Sandy brought up the need to answer the question, what is the vision? What can the world look like in the future with trauma-informed care and a greater appreciation for the role that adversity plays in all of our lives. Fortunately, Dan has taken the lead to begin really piecing together what this vision could be. There is a need to build resilience for populations to overcome adversity, from abuse to climate change to terrorism, as well as increased funding necessary to provide the mental health services necessary to accommodate the need our society has. Dan, as we continue to develop this comprehensive vision, I hope that we will have the opportunity to catch up and discuss the progress we are making. I want to thank you very much for taking the time to discuss this all with me, and thank you for all of the work you do. Thank you to our listeners for tuning into this episode of Press On, and keep working to make our world a better place!


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