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Stephanie Pellitt

Policy and Advocacy Associate

Bill Encouraging Trauma-Informed Care Introduced

March 30, 2017 | Children and Youth | Medicaid | Comments
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On Thursday, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Representative Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the latest version of the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act, a bill designed to help identify and aid children who have experienced violence-induced trauma. The legislation creates funding opportunities to expand trauma-informed care across multiple sectors including health care, education, and law enforcement. The bill is a potential vehicle for incorporating the science of adverse childhood experiences and trauma into federal policymaking.

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, nearly 35 million children in the United States have had at least one serious traumatic experience. These experiences dramatically impact a child’s neurological and behavioral development, long-term health, and societal outcomes. In response, this legislation would allow more than two dozen federal grants to fund programs that help identify and treat psychological stress and trauma in kids. Highlights of the bill include:

  • Expanding Medicaid Coverage for Trauma Services.Creating a pilot Medicaid demonstration program to incentivize coverage of a comprehensive set of trauma-informed screening and treatment services;
  • Expanding Mental Health in Schools. Establishing a school integration program that provides five-year grants to states, school districts, and Indian tribes to increase student access to trauma support services and mental health care by linking school systems with clinical providers;
  • Increasing SAMHSA Funding: Authorizes an additional $20 million funding increase for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative to evaluate “new strategies that improve trauma-informed care;”
  • Disseminating Best Practices.Allowing funding for training in trauma-informed best practices for major federal grant programs that serve children who experience trauma;
  • Training Law Enforcement.Creating a law enforcement coordinating center to share information, improve awareness of child trauma, and train officers on trauma’s impact;
  • Training Educators. Creating training programs to prepare educators to work with students who have experienced trauma and recognize the signs of “toxic stress;” and
  • Creating a Trauma Task Force. Creating a trauma task force to coordinate research, review models and develop a strategic plan to address trauma. Trainings recommended by the task force are eligible for major federal grant programs like Head Start and educational grants.