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Mott Foundation grant to support trauma informed care education

​Thursday, June 7, 2018

Marshfield Clinic Health System has received a $200,000 grant over two years, partnering with Wisconsin communities to increase awareness and address effects of trauma through trauma informed care, specifically focusing on afterschool, community-based organizations and child-care systems.

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation awarded the grant, which was jump-started initially by a new curriculum – Supporting Children with Complex Trauma in Afterschool Programs. The curriculum was developed by the health system's Center for Community Health Advancement (CCHA) and Wisconsin Afterschool Network (WAN) consultants. This work was funded by the state's Department of Children and Families.

The Mott Foundation grant, along with the new curriculum, will be used for training, technical assistance and education by health system staff for community-based organizations, child care centers and school-based afterschool programs. Regional communities of practice facilitated by CCHA staff and WAN consultants in Eau Claire, Wausau, Stevens Point, the Fox Valley and Milwaukee will be developed to help support implementing trauma-sensitive programs and referral pathways will be developed.  

Trauma is extreme stress that overwhelms a person's ability to cope through an event or circumstances that harms physical or emotional well-being. Research shows stress changes the way the brain reacts to stressors, creates behavioral health problems with forming relationships, perceiving danger, impeding learning, health and overall wellness. Substance abuse in the home, poverty, homelessness and domestic violence are examples of such stress. Trauma-informed therapy has proven more effective than traditional therapy alone at reversing trauma's negative effects.  

Trauma informed care involves understanding, recognizing and responding to effects of trauma. It lessens the blame placed on children who have experienced adverse childhood experiences and helps people respond compassionately to a child's behavior. Instead of asking "what is wrong with you?" an adult might ask, "what has happened to you?"

"By using trauma informed care, afterschool programs like Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs can play an even bigger role in building resilience and positively impacting all children, youth and families," said Wisconsin's First Lady Tonette Walker. "I am excited to see how Marshfield Clinic Health System and the Wisconsin Afterschool Network will integrate trauma informed care into their work with afterschool programs and spread their knowledge across Wisconsin."

The First Lady has a longstanding interest in this issue and about a year ago, health system officials met with her to discuss trauma informed care. A common theme was to embed trauma informed care into large statewide "systems" that daily serve thousands of Wisconsin children and youth, many who have experienced trauma.

That meeting proved to be a catalyst for CCHA staff to write the funding grant.

"We know there are children and adolescents who have behavioral health and trauma issues. Organizations and schools need skills and techniques to change how they work with kids and families," said Jay Shrader, vice president, Community Health & Wellness, Marshfield Clinic Health System.

As the health system unfolds its community work based on its priorities – alcohol and substance abuse; behavioral health; chronic disease; and social determinants of health – trauma is a top consideration.

"With many communities, especially in rural Wisconsin, facing a critical shortage of mental health professionals a strategy to alleviate a portion of the crisis is to do and further the work that will be done thanks to this funding," Shrader said.

"Supporting our communities' efforts with behavioral health needs is critical to our own system's community health efforts. This grant allows us to support Wisconsin communities and our children even more."

Marshfield Clinic Health System

Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) is a $2.2 billion integrated health system serving Wisconsin with about 9,000 employees and over 1,200 providers comprising 86 specialties, health plan, and research and education programs. MCHS primary operations include Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield Medical Center, Marshfield Children's Hospital, Lakeview Medical Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, Security Health Plan and Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation. 

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