National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is the nation’s largest network of care centers for child victims of abuse, with 854 Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) serving more than 334,000 children each year. While these centers provide justice for children and safety from abusers, perhaps the longest-lasting impact of the work of CACs is to heal children from the symptoms of trauma that could otherwise affect them for the rest of their lives, avoiding long-term health and behavioral problems.
With support from Cambia Health Foundation, NCA and the Yale Child Study Center are currently training more than 20 clinicians working in CACs in Idaho and Utah as part of a project: Implementing the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention.
CFTSI is an innovative, evidence-based treatment that focuses on increasing caregiver support by enhancing communication between the child and caregiver about the child’s trauma symptoms and providing strategies to help children and families cope with and master trauma reactions.
Child victims of abuse and their caregivers, including parents, grandparents or guardians. According to the findings of the Yale study, involving caregivers in their child’s therapy through CFTSI shows not only a reduction in the children’s symptoms but a lowering of post-traumatic stress reactions in their caregivers.
When children experience traumatic events, it’s important to intervene early so Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) doesn’t firmly establish. CFTSI is the only evidence-based, acute treatment model for child traumatic stress. That means it’s designed to be delivered soon after traumatic events or soon after disclosure, to prevent the onset of PTSD and other related disorders.
An earlier project in North and South Carolina, completed by NCA and Yale. demonstrated a major reduction in PTSD symptoms in kids after they received CFTSI. What’s more, caregivers reported not only improvements in their children’s symptoms but a better awareness overall of the issues their children were facing. Cambia Health Foundation’s focus on building resilience in children is a great fit with this NCA and Yale partnership. Working together, it is expanding the reach of these supports for family and caregivers in need.
While the early results from the Carolinas are promising, every family’s needs are different. Throughout this project, the training addressed specific responses from the families and caregivers served here in western states regarding what would best support them through these traumatic events. Building these real-world needs into a personalized training will ensure a tailored, relevant, responsive course of treatment.
After receiving in-person training, 22 clinicians from seven CACs (six in Utah and one in Idaho) are currently in a nine-month consultation phase where they work bi-weekly with a master trainer for approximately 60 minutes. The trainer helps clinicians staff cases and provides support, ensuring fidelity to the evidence-based treatment model.