Southwest Michigan Children’s Trauma Assessment Center launches major impact on child welfare system in Colorado

Henry and Perricone in a training session.

The team at Southwest Michigan Children’s Trauma Assessment Center (CTAC) at Western Michigan University has provided clinical trauma assessments for children with trauma histories in 67 out of 83 counties in the state of Michigan, and now their mission to improve outcomes for vulnerable children has expanded beyond our state borders.

Jim Henry, PhD, CTAC project director, and Amy Perricone, LMSW and project coordinator, have been collaborating with the Larimer County Department of Human Services in Colorado over the last 17 months.

The project grew out of a need to train Department of Human Services staff and community stakeholders to become more trauma informed. They started by implementing the Trauma Screener (a screening tool developed by the team at CTAC), conducting CTAC’s state-of-the-art trauma assessments for children in the county, and providing training to child welfare professionals as a foundation for understanding trauma as well as Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS).

As capacity grew, CTAC began training and consulting with service providers within the county so they would be equipped to conduct their own assessments, allowing them to expand their reach to more children in need. The result was the development of a new transdisciplinary assessment center through the Marriage and Family Therapy Department at Colorado State University.

The project has since expanded to include training for six other surrounding counties to develop a seven-county trauma-informed project consortium, called the 7 County Child Welfare Resiliency Project.

Together the seven counties hold more than 50% of the state’s entire child welfare population. Through the training and consulting of CTAC’s Dr. Jim Henry and Amy Perricone, assessment centers will be developed in each county. The assessment centers will be conducting high level assessments for their most vulnerable, high-risk children, many of whom who are living in residential facilities. The long-term goal is to expand statewide.