Promoting Emotional Adjustment in Children Experiencing Challenges

Principal Investigators

  • Sheree Toth, Ph.D.

Evaluator

  • Jody Manly, Ph.D.

Project Director

Alisa Hathaway, LCSW-R, Ed.D.

Funder

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) experience a number of short- and long-term impacts of trauma. Increasingly, IPV has been highlighted as a significant problem in military families. The proposed project “Promoting Emotional Adjustment in Children Experiencing challenges (PEACE)” was designed to enhance the availability of evidence-based trauma treatment services to children and families exposed to violence, especially IPV, or experiencing other challenges related to trauma or parental military deployment. This grant allows Mt. Hope Family Center (MHFC) to continue in the role as the only member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) in Western New York (NY). We have expanded our current trauma treatment services to include not only children in the child welfare system, but also military families, given the high rates of stress in military involved families. Children served are drawn from Rochester, NY and the greater Monroe County area. Rochester has a large ethnically and racially diverse population and over 50% of Rochester’s children reside in impoverished families. Rochester has the highest rate of violent crime in New York State (NYS). Through Project PEACE, 90 children and parents will receive evidence-based trauma treatment annually, for a total of 720 individuals served over the course of the project. We provide Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Alternatives for Families-A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (AF-CBT), and Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) to children and their caregivers. We provide training on the effects of trauma on children and families and disseminate best practices in implementation of evidence-based interventions locally and nationally. We continue to facilitate trauma-informed service delivery for child-serving systems in the community. Thus, Project PEACE continues to benefit the community now—by providing needed services and evaluation of interventions for traumatized children and families—and in the future—through partnerships with NCTSN and Mt. Hope Family Center that can improve sustainability of trauma treatment for children exposed to violence and their families. As a group, children exposed to IPV have extremely high rates of mental health, medical, and academic difficulties. Their extensive needs place a significant burden on society, including social welfare, educational, mental health, medical, and legal systems. The accessibility of evidence-based, trauma-informed treatments for this group of children is essential and will improve the provision of these services both locally and nationally. Defining effective treatments for children exposed to IPV is essential from both a public health and economic perspective. Provision and evaluation of effective treatments for children in military families possesses important implications for policy makers as well as practitioners, and the results of the project will be disseminated to child-serving systems locally and nationally. PEACE builds on existing collaborative efforts of a multidisciplinary team of community stakeholders, including a Community Advisory Board working to improve the lives of children exposed to violence. It supports the county’s strategic plan to make evidence-based, trauma-informed programs in Monroe County, NY more accessible to children and families.