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Forum Focuses On Trauma-Informed Care in Children

Rob and Karen
Willis Kern
Baby Fold Clinical Director Rob Lusk and ISU Social Work Associate Professor Karen Stipp, both panelists at Tuesday's event.

When trauma impacts young children, the long-term effects can be detrimental to society, in addition to the individual traumatized.

A public forum about trauma and its effect on children will be hosted by the Women to Women Giving Circle from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at the ISU Alumni Center, 1101 N. Main St., Normal. The forum is free and open to the public.

Dr. Rob Lusk, clinical director at The Baby Fold in Normal, and Karen Stipp, associate professor at Illinois State University's School of Social Work, are two of the panelists at the forum.

Trauma is a deeply distressing life situation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the vast majority of women in substance abuse treatment and the public mental health system report a history of trauma, with the abuse most commonly having occurred in childhood.

Social service agencies are asked to provide Trauma Informed Care, an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma. Lusk said this type of treatment broadens the chances for success in rehabilitation.

"The main buffer to longer effects of trauma is social support," said Lusk. "For kids this is critically important."

Stipp said new research detailing what goes on in the brain when children experience trauma is widely available to treatment providers, not just neuroscientists.

"One of the most important features of that is that what we used to call 'misbehavior' or being 'incorrigible' can now be scientifically explained as neuro-pathways in the brain that just aren't connecting."

Both Lusk and Stipp applaud recent McLean County government efforts to broaden mental health treatment. But they each had hoped a greater emphasis would be placed on prevention.

"We've certainly needed supports for people who have experienced mental health illness and, certainly, trauma in the jail," said Stipp. "But I've been disappointed that those large dollars went to the response area, but the prevention area just hasn't been there."

Stipp said building resilience is critical in delivering trauma-informed care. Lusk agreed.

"The resources keep flowing to the back end. But, if we could go back upstream, I wish there was more funding for prevention. There are pockets here and there but it just isn't something that's been emphasized."

GLT correspondent Willis Kern has more.

GLT's full story

You can also listen to bonus audio from the interview:

Bonus audio from the interview, including the impact of the #MeToo movement and the Kavanaugh hearings

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Willis is a Bloomington, IL, native. During his senior year at Bloomington High School, he finished third in the "Radio Speaking" division of the state speech contest, the only year he competed.