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Children's Trauma Assessment Center gets $420,000 grant

Jan. 26, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University's Children's Trauma Assessment Center has been awarded a $420,000, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help build strategies to curb children's exposure to violence.

The grant is renewable for an additional two years, under the Office of Justice Programs' Safe Start Promising Approaches for Children Exposed to Violence program.

The center, operated by the WMU College of Health and Human Services, will use the funds to implement effective intervention strategies designed to curb children's exposure to violence. Safe Start Promising Approaches enables communities to strengthen existing alliances among community groups such as law enforcement, mental health practitioners, child welfare organizations and domestic violence victim advocates and providers in order to supply the best services to meet the needs of young children and families who have been exposed to violence or who are at risk of exposure.

CTAC will be working in partnership with Kalamazoo County Head Start; Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Kalamazoo Family Court and the court appointed special advocates; and the Elizabeth Upjohn Healing Center. Under the leadership of Dr. Jim Henry, WMU associate professor of social work and the center's director, and Connie Black-Pond, the center's clinical director, the partners will manage a School Intervention Project through Head Start, for children ages 3 to 6.

By introducing an inclusive curriculum designed to meet the needs of children affected by violence and by offering a concurrent parenting component, the project aims to reduce the impact

of violence, including community violence, and give children better opportunities to develop healthy behavior early in their lives. The curriculum will be the subject of a research project to measure its effectiveness and project directors hope to develop and expand the program in the local community.

In addition, the partners will invite other community agencies to collaborate in regular meetings evaluating current practices and developing general policies that improve and sustain the systematic response in our community to young children from birth to age 6 exposed to violence.

"We hope to develop ways of narrowing service gaps and establishing effective response systems that anticipate and minimize the harmful effects of violence," Henry says.

Any organizations interested in participating in the community collaboration should call the CTAC Safe Start Project at (269) 387-7046, Ext. 2.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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