Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,
On behalf of the national Child Trauma and ACEs Policy (CTAP) Working Group and the national organizations signed below, we write you in support of the bipartisan Resilience Investment, Support & Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act (S. 2086), introduced by Senators Durbin (D-IL), Capito (R-WV), Murkowski (R-AK), and Duckworth (D-IL). We are organizations dedicated to the development and integration of trauma-informed policies and practices that can reduce violence and substance use disorders, improve health, and advance educational and economic success by helping children, youth, families, and communities heal from and prevent trauma.
The bipartisan S. 2086 would make a major difference in the lives of families and communities most impacted by trauma. It would invest in the tools necessary for communities to recognize and coordinate services to prevent and address the effects of trauma, which has just increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Left unaddressed, exposure to trauma in childhood can have immediate and lifelong impacts on brain development and mental and physical wellbeing, healthy relationships, and academic achievement.
Nationally, nearly 35 million children have had at least one traumatic experience, and nearly two-thirds of children have been exposed to violence. A new report published by the World Health Organization found just four of the multiple health and social problems caused by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cost the United States over $740 billion a year in lost productivity. In the U.S. during the pandemic, nearly two in three young people expressed that they were feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. In just this one measure of the impact of trauma, there is a 200 percent increase since 2018. And, as we now recognize, the COVID-19 pandemic had a disproportionate impact on children and youth of color and already vulnerable populations.
As the Senate considers a reconciliation bill to address the needs of children and families, we express our strong support for the inclusion of key provisions within the RISE from Trauma Act that will help children and youth experiencing severe adversity, and their families and communities, heal and thrive. Some priorities include:
Section 101 of the RISE from Trauma Act (S.2086) - $600 million annual HHS grant program to fund community-based coalitions
When addressing trauma, community-based coalitions are essential to an effective and locally specific approach, enlisting trusted leaders who reflect the community to address important needs—whether they stem from community violence, addiction and overdose, suicide, or other challenges. These grants will help coalitions effectively coordinate community stakeholders—including health, education, social services, and others—and deliver targeted local services to address community trauma, and promote prevention and resilience. This provision prioritizes communities facing high rates of trauma and is a historic investment in prevention and local community response. This proposal of $4.8 billion over 8 years aligns very closely with the $5 billion proposed in the American Jobs Plan for community-based violence interventions, and we urge you to include it in a reconciliation bill or other package.
Increased funding for Sec. 7134 of the SUPPORT Act - Trauma grants to schools
As part of the 2018 SUPPORT for Families and Communities Act, we worked with Senators Durbin and Capito, along with other Congressional leaders, to begin laying the groundwork for an enhanced federal trauma response through enactment of this provision. This authorized program provides trauma grants to schools to increase workforce training, schoolwide planning, family engagement, and partnerships with community providers. It supports collaborative efforts between school systems and mental health systems, school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports, professional development for teachers and administrators, and the engagement of families and communities to increase the ability to recognize and respond to child and youth trauma. Each of these activities strengthens the capacity of schools, families and communities to ensure students learn and develop in safe, stable environments. As students return to school with enhanced mental health needs, traumatic exposure, and exacerbation of racial injustice over the course of the pandemic, we recommend as much as $1 billion to this grant program to support school districts nationwide.
Sustain funding for Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence Initiative (Department of Justice’s OJJDP)
This funding program provides technical assistance for child and family-serving organizations to help them better recognize and help families at risk for violence and preventing violence by identifying and addressing the needs of children who are experiencing or witnessing violence, abuse, and other adverse childhood experiences. Funding is needed to support community collaborations to address multiple types of violence and serve children experiencing poly-victimization.