Durbin, Duckworth Announce Nearly $2 Million to Prevent Violence, Support Children Exposed to Trauma

SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced $1,944,811 has been awarded to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and the University of Chicago through the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence program.  Funding will be used by the two hospital systems to expand mental health services for victims of violence in order to prevent reinjury, and to deliver trauma-informed services in the community, including after-school and vocational training services for at-risk youth in order to break the cycle of violence.

“By investing in community programs that address the role of trauma and exposure to violence, we can build resilience in our young people, which lays the foundation for a safer future,” said Durbin. “As part of my Chicago HEAL Initiative, this federal funding will support hospital efforts to create stronger, more resilient communities where every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

Too often, young people are exposed to and become victims of violence in their communities,” said Duckworth. “As a result, there’s an increased need for trauma-informed, community-based, and equity-centered treatment and services. I’m proud to join Senator Durbin in announcing this significant funding to help these Chicago hospitals expand their trauma-based mental health services to foster an environment where young people and families can process, heal, and thrive.”

As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Durbin has led the effort to fund OJJDP’s Children Exposed to Violence program, including restoring and increasing its funding after it was zeroed out in 2018. Durbin and Duckworth have also led bipartisan efforts to codify this program into law through the RISE from Trauma Act.

Durbin has prioritized addressing childhood trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) as one way to break the cycle of violence. This has included his Chicago HEAL Initiative, for which he unveiled the four-year report in June of 2023. Launched in 2018 by Senator Durbin and 10 of the largest hospitals serving Chicago—including Lurie Children’s Hospital and University of Chicago—the HEAL Initiative is a collaboration to address the root causes of gun violence through economic, health, and community projects in 18 of Chicago’s neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and health disparities.

Durbin helped lead the effort in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 to provide $3 billion in school and community mental health funding, including millions of dollars for trauma-informed care programs in Chicago. Additionally, in 2018, Durbin and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) created a Trauma Support in Schools program that was funded at $12 million in FY23 and resulted in $2.9 million to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).