Trauma-Responsive Community Coalition

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The Trauma-Responsive Community Coalition is a three-year project of the Erie County Family and Children First Council involving numerous organizations including first responders, police, schools, social service agencies, faith communities, civic organizations, mental health agencies businesses, and community members. Our goal is to build Erie County into a highly trauma-responsive community. Experiencing trauma can lead to feeling unsafe and out of control for years after the trauma is experienced. In order for our community to be highly responsive and sensitive to trauma, we will build the culture of our community organizations so that we will make everyone feel safe, connected, and in-control. 

The National Council for Behavioral Health states that 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lifetimes. In the 2019 Community Health Assessment conducted by the Erie County Health Department, it was found that 33% of those under the age of 30 in Erie County had experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences. For youth, the assessment found 57% of Erie County youth surveyed had experienced an adverse childhood experience and 22% of those surveyed had experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences. These experiences include traumatic stressors such as abuse, neglect, divorce, witnessing domestic violence, not having enough to eat, and having a family member with depression or mental illness. The more trauma that a child experiences, the more likely the child will develop a number of mental and physical ailments as they grow. The multitude of health and social problems associated with experiences of childhood trauma include: depression, illicit drug use, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, suicide attempts, and early death, among others.  Of the Erie County youth who had reported that they had experienced three or more adverse childhood events, 45% said that they had contemplated suicide.

The good news is that the wounds of childhood trauma can be healed. Children and youth can attend counseling locally that addresses past traumas and helps develop positive coping mechanisms. However, the path of healing from trauma is a long journey and these children and youth need support from those who surround them as they heal. 

Trauma-Responsive Care is based on universal precautions: everyone needs to feel safe, connected and in control, whether a trauma history is known or not. With Trauma-Responsive Care, everyone in an organization is responsible for making those they are with feel safe, connected, and in-control. This cultural shift is most likely to last if we help agency leaders understand the concepts of trauma-responsiveness and support these concepts being added to the policies and procedures of our local agencies.

Funding for this project has been provided by the Erie County Community Foundation, The Michelle Wightman-Karrie Wieber Charitable Foundation, The Mylander Foundation and contributions from the partner agencies of the Erie County Family and Children and First Council.

If you would like to involved in the work of the Trauma-Responsive Community Coalition or would like more information, please contact:

Melissa Bayer Smith, [email protected] 

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