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Children's trauma center wins $1.2 million grant

Oct. 22, 2008

KALAMAZOO--The National Institute of Health has awarded a $1.2 million grant to Western Michigan University's Southwest Michigan Children's Trauma Assessment Center to help maltreated, traumatized children in a multi-county region.

The grant is from the National Institute of Health's Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration under the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. The federal funding will enable the WMU center to improve child welfare practices in several counties across Michigan and two tribal courts. It is the second National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative grant the center has received, the first being a $1.6 million award in 2003.

The recent grant will target change at three levels--system change, service delivery and child well-being--through a series of collaborative trainings and service implementation. Change in the perspectives and skills of professionals and caregivers at every level of the child welfare system will be fostered and sustained through training and consultation at county demonstration sites from urban cities to rural communities. Key stakeholders at demonstration sites will build joint leadership, while teams will integrate new material into their practice to improve the treatment of traumatized children, with the ultimate goal of impacting decision-making and policy.

Service providers will be trained in therapies specifically designed and researched for use with traumatized and maltreated children. Those therapies include "Real Life Heroes" and "Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy." CTAC grant staff will also train care providers in a curriculum designed to foster their ability to replicate the therapy children receive through CTAC.

"The CTAC team is ecstatic to receive this grant for the second time," says Dr. James Henry, center director and WMU associate professor of social work. "Traumatized children will be better served in Michigan through trauma informed systemic change and the building of local capacity to provide evidence-based trauma assessment and treatment."

In addition, the grant provides membership in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a network of 60 trauma centers across the nation under the leadership of the national sites at the University of California at Los Angeles and Duke University.

"Participating in the national network provides our center the most innovative trauma informed research, practices and products available," says Connie Black-Pond, the center's clinical director. "We can now disseminate that information in Michigan to further develop trauma informed child welfare systems in Michigan."

In addition to Henry and Black-Pond, the center team also includes Dr. Ben Atchison, professor of occupational therapy; Dr. Yvette Hyter, associate professor of speech pathology and audiology; Dr. Mark Sloane, CTAC medical director ; Dr. Yvonne Unrau, grant evaluator and associate professor of social work; Amy Mack, CTAC training coordinator; Margaret Richardson, grant evaluator and social worker; Love Kiracofe, CTAC social worker; Marianne Giles, CTAC office manager; Frank Vidimos, CTAC social worker; and Denise Wheatley, CTAC administrative assistant.

The center began operating in 1999 with a grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and is one of the Unified Clinics of the WMU College of Health and Human Services. The center assesses the impact to children following exposure to traumatic events.

For more information, contact Dr. James Henry, center director, at (269) 387-7073 or visit wmich.edu/hhs/unifiedclinics/ctac.

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

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