Recently, I have been writing about childhood trauma and the needs of children from infancy to age five. I can’t think of two more important issues than childhood trauma and the impact we can have on children through our early childhood education systems. Several months ago, I announced that we are planning to launch a new system of care in the Greater Philadelphia region for children who have been traumatized. We have been extremely pleased to work side-by-side with the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania that has graciously sponsored this initiative.
Dr. Bruce Perry is an internationally recognized expert in child trauma and Senior Fellow of The Child Trauma Academy in Houston, Texas. Dr. Perry will be providing training to a group of clinicians in our area who will be the core of this new movement. This training will begin in September and continue for two years. The training will feature the Neuro-Sequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), which is Dr. Perry’s latest diagnostic tool for helping clinicians understand the nature of the trauma through a unique mapping system of the brain. Understanding the impact of trauma in this way will give us new tools for treatment and intervention for child trauma.
On Tuesday evening, May 1, we held our kick-off meeting of this new trauma cohort. There were 21 professionals in attendance who will be part of this new initiative.
Suzanne O’Connor of United Way gave an overview of the role of United Way and the connection of this new program to the world of ECE (Early Childhood Education) in Philadelphia. Diane Wagenhals then provided an overview of how a regional triage for traumatized children will be designed. This triage will include the NMT training for clinical professionals, a newly-developed training for educators, and another training for caregivers of children and parents.
The principles of NMT set the foundation of all the trainings. The intent is for the entire region to develop a comprehensive and coordinated system of trauma education for all those who care for children as well as a system of care for traumatized children.
A model program to replicate: follow updates on this blog
In a day where funding for programs like this one is seriously in jeopardy, where the systems that care for children are so very fragile and the need so great, this is an extremely bold and innovative effort. I encourage you to follow this program via this blog as we deal with this life-dominating problem in the lives of our precious children.
As we listened to these dedicated professionals express their excitement and hopes for this new initiative, the enthusiasm and energy within the group was palpable. It is exciting to be part of a cutting edge movement that has the compassion and sophistication of the NMT program. Dr. Perry is a caring and extraordinary professional who has dedicated his life to the healing of traumatized children. We are privileged to have him and his staff as a vital part of the clinical fabric of this program as we attempt to permeate our region with a new understanding of the diagnosis and impact of trauma in children.
A renewed hope
As I looked around, I felt such admiration for the professionals around me. I realized that I may be a part of a new movement of hope in our region.
While it is exciting to think about what will happen in our region, it was doubly exciting to consider that this program could happen nationally if we could embrace this model throughout our country. It is inspirational to think that we could create and establish a whole new paradigm for diagnosis and treatment of our children in crisis.
Each of us feels very privileged to be a part of this new beginning. Now that is thrilling! I will continue to update you on the progress of this exciting movement as it continues to develop and unfold.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network