Almost half of children in the U.S. have experienced one or more traumatic events, and nearly one-third of youths ages 12 to 17 have dealt with levels of adversity that can contribute to poor physical, social, emotional and educational outcomes across their lifespans, said Jeanne Felter, director of the M.S. in Community and Trauma Counseling (CTC) program at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University).
Despite these sobering facts, few professionals and paraprofessionals that work with children in Philadelphia have the knowledge and skills to appropriately address their trauma-related needs, she said.
To help close this gap and improve the outcomes for children, Jefferson’s CTC program hosted the first Greater Philadelphia Trauma Training Conference, held July 18-21 on the East Falls campus. Some 400 professionals from as far away as California attended the conference, which was presented in association with Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, Lakeside Global Institute, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services.
“As the only trauma-focused professional graduate program in the region, we’re uniquely qualified to lead this training conference,” said Felter, the Zeldin Family Foundation Chair in Community and Trauma Counseling.
The conference provided a forum for interprofessional training, research sharing, best practices and innovative approaches to trauma-informed education and intervention across professions, including medicine and health, psychology, counseling, social work, education, child welfare, criminal justice, researchers, advocates, policymakers and philanthropists.
The diverse slate of topics addressed during the meeting included working with LGBTQ clients, teen dating violence, understanding children’s bereavement, advocacy for children in foster care, using art to enhance relationships with trauma-affected youths and child trafficking.
Keynote speakers included Frank Meeink, author of “Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead,” and John Rich, M.D., and Sandra Bloom, M.D., both faculty members at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. Other speakers were associated with such leading institutions as Jefferson, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Center for Grieving Children, Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, and Covenant House Pennsylvania.
“The conference is a great example of meaningful and innovative collaboration between our Community and Trauma Counseling program and several other key organizations and institutions in the city that have come together with a shared mission of growing and strengthening Philadelphia’s child-serving workforce,” Felter said.
Other conference sponsors included the Scattergood Foundation, Carole Haas Gravagno, the Zeldin Family Foundation, University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the Philadelphia Alliance for Child Trauma Services, Network of Neighbors Responding to Violence, Philadelphia Community Behavioral Health and Malvern Institute Recovery Centers.
Also, see WHYY’s coverage of the conference here.