On Sunday, March 19, Children’s Home + Aid Policy Manager Stefanie Polacheck joined U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative Danny Davis at a news conference at the University of Chicago Medical Center to announce the introduction of the Trauma Informed Care for Children and Families Act. The proposed legislation addresses the lack of identification, referral, and immediate support for children who experience trauma in the Chicago metropolitan area and throughout the nation. The bill would also expand Medicaid coverage for child trauma services and increase mental health care in schools.
Children and families impacted by trauma often face barriers to accessing quality services to help them heal. Families may also face insurance-related difficulties – many providers do not accept Medicaid, and the ones that do are often inundated with clients, resulting in closed intake or extensive waitlists. In addition, many services are office-based and limited to daytime hours, which creates challenges for clients who are in school or working. When provider locations and schedules are inconvenient to clients, the result is inconsistent attendance and participation, which often leads to service termination. Lastly, service providers often struggle to recruit and retain trauma-informed professionals to work in violence-impacted communities.
Children exposed to trauma view themselves, others and the world differently. As a result, they may struggle with relationships, emotional regulation, and problem solving. If left unresolved, these struggles may lead to academic difficulties, unsafe behavior, and long term health consequences. Therapeutic interventions support youth to restore problem solving skills, build healthy relationships, and reduce unsafe behavior.
Children’s Home + Aid’s Policy Team was involved in advising on the bill and ensuring the Act would successfully serve the needs of the children and families it was intended for. At the press conference, Stefanie and the agency were recognized by name as one of the advisors on the bill. Over the summer, Stefanie, along with fellow Children’s Home + Aid staffers Amanda Whitlock and Nicole Johns, met with Senator Durbin’s local and D.C.-based staff to present ideas when the bill was in its earliest idea phase. Several of Children’s Home + Aid’s recommendations made their way into the bill. Children’s Home + Aid will continue to work with Senator Durbin’s team to ensure this critical legislation is passed.