What defines a traumatic experience for a child? Is that experience or event different for every adolescent? And does every child who experiences a traumatic event need to be in a trauma program?
Many children live through very difficult life experiences. Some, but not all, of those children will be traumatized by those experiences. Not every child who has been through trauma will be diagnosed with a trauma-related disorder. Not every client who has experienced trauma needs to be in the trauma program.
C&A screens for trauma
As part of the intake process, Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health (C & A) screens all clients for trauma using the Life Events Survey, which asks questions regarding adverse childhood experiences and other potentially traumatizing childhood experiences such as physical or sexual abuse, living with a parent who has mental health or substance abuse problems, or being the target of bullying.
At any one time C&A averages approximately 300 clients in the trauma program. These are clients who are experiencing significant trauma-related symptomatology and impairment in their social, emotional and/or academic functioning as a result of their traumatic experiences. These clients range in age from preschoolers to young adults. They receive evidence-based trauma-focused services to help them process what they’ve been through, learn effective ways to cope, and build a healthy life moving forward.
In addition to providing services to C&A clients, our trauma program also provides support for the Stark County Community. C & A’s team participates in Canton City School’s Crisis Intervention team. Our staff makes ourselves available to go out to schools and provide support to staff, students and families following a suicide, sudden death or other difficult situation. Our staff will also be in schools when students complete the NOYHS to provide support and screening as needed.
C&A's clinicians are experts in trauma
C & A has been ahead of the curve in implementing trauma-informed services. Our staff members are highly regarded throughout the state and are seen as experts in regards to trauma. As part of ongoing education to the Stark County community regarding suicide, C & A’s staff has made presentations on suicide awareness and prevention presentations at local churches, schools and community agencies. We have participated in panel discussions after performances of the musical Next to Normal at Malone University and the film Resilience at the Palace Theatre. We have also made presentations about toxic stress and self-care for United Way.
Educating our community leaders through forming various partnerships remains the best way to prevent further traumatization to our youth. These trainings have included:
- Suicide, trauma and secondary traumatic stress for staff and administrators of Plain Local Schools
- Trauma-informed care training for Alliance City Schools administrators.
- Trauma training for early childhood providers through Ohio Child Care Resource & Referral Association (OCCRA)
- Trauma training in youth and young adults for Stark County Sheriff’s Crisis Intervention Team
- Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) training for The Legacy Project’s mentors and volunteers
Mary Kreitz is C & A’s trauma program manager. If you know of a youth who would benefit from the C & A’s trauma program, please call 330-454-7917 or text 4hope to 741-741.