New Multi-Year Program Aims to Provide Training for Agencies Supporting Children and Families Through Trauma

A new multi-year program, “Co-Creating Well-Being: Supporting Children and Families Through Trauma,” will come to the region, The Health Foundation for Western & Central New York announced today.

The three-phase initiative will use a trauma-informed approach to train agencies and individuals, ranging from health-care and social-service providers to law enforcement officers, and educators, to recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in their staff and clients.

“Research shows that nearly half the United States population will experience a traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one, a serious injury, witnessing a violent crime, domestic violence, abuse or neglect at some point in their lives,” said Nora OBrien-Suric, president, Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. “Our goal in launching this program is to focus on diminishing the biological and developmental impact of trauma on children five and under and their families.”

Since inception, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York focused on ensuring that all children impacted by poverty are physically, socially and emotionally healthy as they enter kindergarten. For the last several years, the foundation committed to improving children’s social and emotional health through programs such as PEDALS and Help Me Grow and supporting children and families through the spread of evidence-based maternal and child health interventions.

“Traumatic experiences can have an immediate and long-lasting impact, particularly for young children. In fact, children who are exposed to toxic stress over an extended period of time can experience consequences that negatively impact their physical and mental health for the rest of their lives,” added OBrien-Suric. “By investing in a child’s development from when they are born – and before – until they are five years old can result in avoiding negative impact and can foster positive social, cognitive and economic gains that last well beyond childhood. We must engage from a place of care and curiosity without judgement. We must ask “What happened?, instead of What’s wrong with that person?”  This demonstration of humanity and respect supports everyone not just children and families who have survived a traumatic experience or has been traumatized.”

To contribute to the work already happening in our communities focused on diminishing the impact of toxic stress and trauma on children and families, in the first phase of this multi-year, three-phase initiative, the Health Foundation is partnering with other foundations, including the Chautauqua Community Foundation, The John R. Oishei Foundation, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation on the first phase of this project.

Over the course of this program, organizations and providers that work with children and families will have the opportunity to participate in skills building and technical training sessions on trauma, trauma-informed care, toxic stress, adverse childhood experiences and early childhood development; learn about Human Centered Design methods and tools to gather insights that will allow them to develop new interventions with the community at the core of the process. The ultimate goal is to support funding opportunities that expand the availability and spread of evidence-based interventions and programs that support children and families.

“Through this program, we look forward to working with our funding and community partners to help improve the environments in which we can all grow, love, and thrive within,” said OBrien-Suric.

Organizations interested in learning more about the Co-Creating Well-Being: Supporting Children and Families Through Trauma initiative can visit,