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Center gets national funding for child trauma research

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a four-year $1.6 million grant to the newly established University of Kentucky Center for the Study of Violence Against Children (CSVAC). The grant, one of only 10 being presented across the nation, is going to organizations helping children and adolescents deal with traumatic experiences.

"These grants will strengthen the nation's capacity to provide help to children of all ages who experience traumatic events, such as interpersonal violence, natural disasters, or acts of terrorism," said Terry Cline, a SAMHSA administrator.

CSVAC received one of the 10 Community Treatment and Services (CTS) Center grants, which are designed to promote and evaluate effective treatment systems in community and youth-oriented settings. These grants also promote enhanced network systems for clinical, methodological, policy, financing and training issues. Each grant recipient will receive up to $400,000 per year for up to four years. Likewise, the CTS grant officially establishes CSVAC as a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

"We are honored that CSVAC was chosen as one of the select group of organizations to participate in this national endeavor," said Ginny Sprang, principal investigator for the project, director of CSVAC and nationally recognized expert in trauma. "This grant will provide us with opportunities to adapt and test best practice approaches to treating traumatic stress in children exposed to violence."

As a grant recipient, CSVAC will use the federal funding to establish the Child and Adolescent Trauma Treatment Institute (CATTI), which will provide clinical training and information on evidence-based practices in eastern, western, southern and central regions of Kentucky. CATTI will present three specific intervention methods, Parent Child Interaction Therapy (used with children 2 to 12), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (for children 3 to 17), and Abuse-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (for school-age children). These approaches were selected due to the exposure profile of at-risk children in these four regions of the Commonwealth, where the majority of this group of kids suffer from exposure to interpersonal, family and community-based violence.

Based on needs and readiness assessments found through CATTI, CSVAC clinical staff will train regional partners to deliver services in their area to children in need using a "train the trainer" approach. This collaboration will benefit regional sites by educating area staff in new interventions and supplying them with colleagues at UK practicing cutting-edge research and practices in child welfare. The project, through these relationships, will also enjoy a positive ripple effect as newly educated staff become "best practice ambassadors" in their areas of the state and share the practices they learned with additional child welfare staff in the region. Key stakeholders across the Commonwealth, including the state's public child welfare system and various school systems, consumer groups, community mental health representatives, and advocacy organizations, will serve as advisers on the project.

Other UK researchers from the College of Social Work, Center for Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR) and Department of Psychiatry will work with Sprang on CATTI. These co-principal investigators are Allen Brenzel, associate director of CSVAC and chair of the Child and Adolescent Division-Department of Psychiatry; James Clark, associate director of CSVAC and associate dean for research in the College of Social Work; Carlton Craig, assistant professor of social work; Otto Kaak, associate director of CSVAC and professor of psychiatry and pediatrics; Michele Tindall, assistant professor in both the Department of Behavioral Science and College of Social Work with an appointment at CDAR; and Bob Walker, assistant professor of psychiatry at CDAR with appointments in the College of Social Work and Department of Behavioral Science.

The CATTI project is housed at CSVAC, which gained its center status at UK earlier this month. The translational research center, established in the College of Social Work, combines clinical practice, research and training on child and family violence in an effort to develop, assimilate and disseminate knowledge and best practices that will contribute to reducing and ending violence against children and the effects of that violence across the life cycle.

The other nine CTS grant recipients are: Children's Institute, Inc., of Los Angeles; Denver Department of Human Services; Children's Home Society of Florida, of Pensacola; Mental Health Services for Homeless Persons, Inc., of Cleveland; Latino Health Institute, of Boston; Kennedy Krieger Research Institute, Inc., of Baltimore; Community Counseling Center, of Portland, Maine.; Catholic Charities, Inc., of Jackson, Miss.; and Aliviane, Inc., of El Paso, Texas.


Contact: Whitney Hale
University of Kentucky

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