Decades of research has shown how exposure to trauma negatively affects children’s neurological and behavioral development and causes myriad negative downstream impacts on their educational attainment, mental health, rates of homelessness, incarceration, risky behaviors, and physical health throughout their lifetime. Despite this research, federal funding streams have not adapted to prevent trauma and toxic stress and to help children, families, and communities recover from trauma and toxic stress.
To address this, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV) introduced the Resilience Investment, Support and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act (S. 2086), a comprehensive, bipartisan piece of legislation, which would dramatically expand upon the infrastructure for preventing and responding to trauma and toxic stress in children, families, and communities. The Children’s Defense Fund is proud to support this crucial legislation.
The RISE from Trauma Act would begin to address these issues by providing $600 million annually for demonstration projects to establish coordinating bodies to prevent and mitigate toxic stress and trauma in communities and promote resilience through the promotion of protective factors. These coordinating bodies would coordinate services; identify community needs; collect and analyze data related to unique barriers, strengths, assets, gaps, and target areas within communities; and develop a strategic plan for addressing trauma and toxic stress in their community. Importantly, knowing that poor communities—especially poor communities of color where decades of systemic racism have deprived communities of resources that prevent trauma and buffer children against the impacts of trauma— see higher incidence of trauma and toxic stress, the bill would prioritize communities that have faced high rates of community trauma including intergenerational poverty, civil unrest, discrimination, or oppression.
Further, it would expand the number of federal grant programs that are able to deliver trauma services and would establish a new grant program to test and evaluate hospital-based trauma interventions for patients who present with addiction, suicide attempts, or violent injuries, so that hospitals are able to prevent readmission by treating the underlying trauma instead of just injuries.
Finally, the bill places an important emphasis on developing the trauma-focused workforce, focusing especially on recruiting individuals from communities that have been most impacted by trauma and toxic stress and requiring that all activities be carried out either by or in partnership with community-based organizations. It would provide $25 million per year in grants to establish a network of training institutes for infant and early childhood clinical mental health professionals, which will have an emphasis throughout on culturally responsive skills and services, and it would increase funding for the National Health Service Corps student loan repayment program to help more behavioral health providers work in underserved communities. Finally, it would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create toolkits for frontline service providers that help them recognize and respond to trauma and toxic stress, including strategies to improve environments to prevent trauma and toxic stress and to promote resilience.
The RISE from Trauma Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation that is an important step in aligning our policies to promote child well-being and ensure that children are able to thrive in their communities. Trauma is extremely widespread and impacts children across their lifespan; it not only harms children individually but undermines the strength of communities and contributes to the cycle of violence, abuse, and trauma. Our nation does not currently have the infrastructure to help children recover from trauma and toxic stress and where there are services, they are often not accessible to the children who need them most. The RISE from Trauma Act would greatly increase national capacity to prevent and respond to trauma and toxic stress and it contains important provisions to ensure that these responses are community-led and culturally responsive. CDF is proud to support the RISE from Trauma Act.
To become law, the RISE from Trauma Act will need to garner strong support in the Senate. If you want to show your support, contact your Senators.