Durbin And Davis Announce Bipartisan Legislation To Address Childhood Trauma, Reduce Violence

CHICAGO – Building off sweeping federal legislation they passed in 2018 to help children exposed to trauma, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-IL-07) announced new bipartisan legislation to increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma, such as witnessing violence, parental addiction, or abuse. The RISE from Trauma Act (Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion) expands upon a GAO report released last week and would help to build the trauma informed workforce and increase resources for communities to support children who have experienced trauma. The legislation is set to be introduced next week in Washington cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

“As we work to address the root causes of violence, we need to focus on the impact that community violence and other traumatic experiences have on children,” Durbin said.  “In the long run, unaddressed trauma can impact mental and physical health, school success, income, employment, and can contribute to a continued cycle of violence.  Our bill recognizes the ripple effect that trauma can have and seeks to provide our children with the support to address their emotional scars.”

 “A recent Government Accountability Office requested by Senator Durbin and myself details the profound, lasting impact of the trauma inflicted on our children by the pervasive climate of violence in our society and reaffirms that the impact of this violence goes further and deeper and persists even more malignantly than has been generally acknowledged,” Davis said. “This bill provides support for children who have been exposed to trauma. The bill is both a next step in addressing that trauma and, we hope, a catalyst for an ongoing reorientation of how we as a nation, view and address this epidemic.”

“Far too many people in Chicago and across our country have been forced to deal with the harmful impact of violence in their communities and many have lost family members, friends and neighbors to senseless violence themselves. We need to do everything we can to ensure those who grieve or have endured trauma are able to receive the care and support they need, especially children who have been affected at such a formative age,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Durbin and Congressman Davis in introducing this important bill to provide more resources for communities where they are most needed and are disproportionately impacted by the gun violence epidemic.”

Nationwide, nearly 35 million children have had at least one traumatic experience, and nearly two-thirds of children have been exposed to violence. A 2013 study conducted in Chicago communities most impacted by violence found that among 15- to 17-year-olds, one in five witnessed a fatal shooting firsthand. Far too many kids carry the emotional weight of community violence and other traumatic experiences, such as the daily stress of abuse or neglect at home, a parent battling addiction, or an incarceration or a deportation of a loved one. Trauma can create stress on the developing brain and force children into constant “survival mode.” Decades of research have established the link between a child’s exposure to trauma, its effect on neurological and behavioral development, and long-term negative outcomes. Left unaddressed, childhood trauma can impact mental and physical well-being. Yet only a small fraction of the children in need of support to address trauma receive such care.

Last year, Durbin and Davis passed provisions that created a federal task force across agencies to establish a national strategy and promote trauma best practices across all relevant grant programs; created a new $50M mental health in schools program; increased funding for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) National Child Traumatic Stress Network by $17 million; and expanded the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program to allow clinicians to serve in schools. 

The RISE from Trauma Act would expand and support the trauma-informed workforce in schools, health care settings, social services, first responders, and the justice system, and increase resources for communities like Chicago to address the impact of trauma. Specifically, the bill:

  • Increases funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Health Service Corps loan repayment program, in order to recruit more mental health clinicians;
  • Enhances federal training programs at HHS, U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education to provide more tools for early childhood clinicians, teachers, first responders, and certain community leaders;
  • Creates a new HHS grant program to support hospital-based trauma interventions, such as for patients the suffer violent injuries, in order to address mental health needs, prevent re-injury, and improve long-term outcomes;
  • Creates a new HHS grant program to fund community-based coalitions that coordinate stakeholders to address trauma;
  • Creates a new HHS program to monitor and enforce health insurance parity requirements for coverage of youth mental health services; and
  • Expands and strengthens the AmeriCorps program and several HRSA health profession training programs to prioritize recruitment and programming in communities that have experienced trauma. 

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