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UofL partners on $5 million initiative for trauma-resilient community

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and University of Louisville and Centerstone Kentucky officials announced Nov. 12 that the city has been awarded a $5 million, five-year federal grant to launch an initiative to promote resilience and equity for Louisville families and young people most affected by trauma, inequity and violence.

The Mayor’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods will manage the Trauma Resilient Community Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with UofL’s Kent School of Social Work and Centerstone Kentucky.

“We’re thrilled to work on this project because it so closely parallels our mission to create a just and better world,” Kent Dean David Jenkins said. “Our role in the Trauma Resilient Community Initiative is evidence of our unwavering commitment to ensure that every community member has equitable access to services that work, services that help people recover and services that help communities heal.”

The initiative will use a community-based approach to build a “trauma-informed” system of care and services to children and families exposed to violence. The effort is meant to increase the knowledge and skills of people who respond to, make referrals for and provide services to youth and families.

“Louisville is a compassionate city, and compassion requires that we work to remove barriers and create opportunities so that every citizen has the ability to reach their full human potential,” Fischer said. “This initiative is another tool we can use to dismantle the very real barriers of violence, trauma and racial inequity.”

The partners aim to provide trauma treatment to 400 children and their families in west and south Louisville, where data show that youth and families are disproportionately affected by trauma, violence and inequities. The initiative also involves training 200 clinicians in trauma interventions and 200 first responders, volunteers and community service providers in a special youth mental health first-aid model.

Another 40 service providers, public school officials and leaders will be trained in a trauma-resilient approach through the initiative, which will also share the trauma-care information with 50 community agencies serving youth and families and develop a leadership advisory board to increase awareness of trauma and its effects. The initiative includes evaluation of its consumer impact.

“To help people traumatized by violence, it’s so important to use an approach that fully takes into account their circumstances,” said Jennifer Middleton, associate professor of social work. “The Kent School of Social Work’s researchers are pleased to be partners in this federally funded effort to aid people in ways that are sensitive to their needs and based on proven methods – and to help train members of our community to continue that care.”

Middleton, Crystal Collins-Camargo and Bibhuti Sar are the Kent faculty working on the implementation, while Shantel Crosby and Heather Storer are on the research and evaluation team. Kent students also will be involved in ways that include conducting community needs assessments and providing trauma-focused therapy interventions. The Kent group will be looking at specific measures of functioning and well-being for the children and families, Crosby said.

“Our city has made significant gains towards deepening our understanding and ability to make progress against complex challenges like violence and racial inequity. This opportunity allows us to elevate a system that does not just focus on the individual, but organizations, systems and community as part of the healing process,” said Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, director of the Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

“At Centerstone Kentucky, we are proud to partner with SAMHSA, the Mayor’s Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and the UofL Kent School of Social Work to provide evidence-based trauma-informed care, creating stronger neighborhoods across our community,” said Anthony Zipple, president and CEO, Centerstone Kentucky.

Besides the local ones, initiative partners include the Center for Trauma Resilient Communities, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Treatment and Services Adaptation Center for Resilience.

Highlights from Monday’s press release are below. 

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