To bridge the gap between community mental health and the education system, DWMHA Children’s Initiatives has partnered with the Children’s Trauma Assessment Center (CTAC) of Western Michigan University to implement a series of Trauma Town Halls across Wayne County. The partnership between DWMHA and CTAC initially developed under the SAMHSA National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative that awarded funding to the Detroit Trauma-Informed Project (DTIP). Over the past three years, DTIP has built clinical capacity for trauma-specific service delivery, parent and community stakeholder engagement, and increased involvement in trauma-informed care of all child-serving systems in Wayne County. In a collaborative organizing effort with Development Centers, Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan, and the Education Achievement Authority, DTIP expanded into the school setting for the first time in January 2016. Dr. James Henry, co-founder and director of CTAC, engaged community members, parents, and educators in a full-day Trauma Town Hall at Mumford High School in Detroit. Throughout the day, Dr. Henry dynamically led three presentations and discussions on trauma that fit the experiential framework of each distinct audience. In addition to these, the parent and caregiver session included a Community Mental Health Resource Fair to connect participants to Wayne County provider agencies. Parents and caregivers received valuable information and resources that strengthened their identification of child trauma behaviors and actions towards appropriate referrals to community agencies. The knowledge, strategies, and connections gained at the Trauma Town Hall will facilitate the ongoing development of safe spaces and informed referrals that address youth and adolescent mental health needs.
Looking forward, two Trauma Town Halls will take place through the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency (Wayne RESA) in March and April 2016. These have a specific focus on educating school staff on trauma’s impact in the classroom and adopting effective skills to support students who have experienced trauma. Each Trauma Town Hall will include a Community Mental Health Resource Fair to connect school staff to community resources, and introduce partnerships that will evolve future initiatives between DWMHA and Wayne County’s education systems. While the Town Halls alone cannot create trauma-informed schools, families, and communities, they are valuable events in the process towards implementing and sustaining trauma-informed environments. DWMHA anticipates the expansion of future school partnerships and endeavors that support the whole child—learning and health—in their educational settings and beyond.
Alyssa Van Hofwegen, University of Michigan MSW student
Community Organization Intern at DWMHA Children’s Initiatives
 Kids Count Data Center, U.S. Census Bureau, State and County Population Estimates, Retrieved from: datacenter.kidscount.org