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In the midst of the national opioid crisis are children. These children are dealing with traumatic events and often placed in foster care or with relative caregivers.
Traumatic events hinder early childhood development and negatively impact school performance, lifelong physical and mental health, and professional success. Sadly, many Latino children do not get the services they need to heal and overcome the harmful effects of trauma.
High rates of opioid and illegal substance abuse in Texas in 2015 sparked a small trauma-informed committee in San Antonio (67% Latino) to plan a trauma-informed conference to build a network of trauma-informed care in South Texas.
They believe it is critical for counselors, teachers, caregivers, mental health professionals, and medical personal, as well as community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, and philanthropic organizations to understand how trauma affects development and how to best help children who have experienced trauma.
Childhood Trauma in San Antonio
Texas has the second largest population of children under the age of 18 (7,115,614).
In 2015, 63,781 children received one or more CPS responses for maltreatment, some facing multiple maltreatment types or occurrences, according to the 2015 Child Maltreatment Report. Over one quarter (26.1%) of these children are under the age of one.
Neglect and physical abuse are types of maltreatment.
San Antonio (68% Latino) has one of the highest rates of child abuse/neglect and domestic violence in the state, according to The Children’s Shelter.
Child abuse and neglect impairs learning ability, language development, and social and emotional skills. These children are at higher risk for heart, lung and liver diseases, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low academic achievement, anxiety, smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These children often grow up and continue the cycle of trauma.
The Children’s Shelter
Since 1901, The Children’s Shelter has provided a safe haven for child survivors of abuse, neglect, and abandonment in San Antonio and Bexar County.
The shelter provides services to over 4,000 children annually.
In 2010, The Children’s Shelter began the process to become licensed in trauma-informed care through Community Connections.
Community Connections helps organizations design and implement trauma-informed systems engaging all levels of staff in understanding the impact of trauma and creating environments that are welcoming and nonjudgmental.
Annette Rodriguez, the President and CEO of The Children’s Shelter, believes there is no such thing as bad children, but traumatic environments that produce bad behavior.
After a very extensive review process, they became licensed in August 2015.
In October 2015, they opened a new mental health facility, the Harvey E. Najim Hope Center, to offer trauma-informed treatment to children and families impacted by abuse and neglect, according to the Rivard Report.
A small group of the 230 staff started a trauma-informed care committee within their organization to maintain staff training and prevent compassion fatigue.
They saw the need to build a network for trauma-informed care in South Texas. Unique to other areas of Texas, this region has a large and growing Latino population, who will benefit from Spanish-language therapists and services tailored more to their specific needs.
So, they began fundraising and planning.
Trauma-Informed Care Conference
Trauma experts from across Texas and the United States are convening in San Antonio, Texas to provide a variety of trauma-informed workshops to build a network of Trauma-Informed Care in South Texas.
- Understand the effects of trauma and neglect from a neurodevelopmental perspective
- Identify signs and systems of trauma and neglect in young children
- Learn new strategies for care, program development and policy as related to developmental trauma
On Thursday, May 10, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, internationally renowned trauma expert, Dr. Bruce Perry, will present on “The Impact of Trauma and Neglect on the Developing Child.” Dr. Perry is a Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy; an adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwester University in Chicago; and the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog.
On Friday, May 11, a variety trauma experts from across Texas and the U.S. will provide workshops. Some presenters include:
- Melissa Tijerina,Vice President of Child Behavioral Health Services for the Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio
- Dr. Susana Rivera, a psychologist from Laredo who specializes in trauma and border issues
- Sarah Mercado with the Texas Christian University Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development,
- Dr. Joe Hendershott, author of Reaching the Wounded Student
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