Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced that Child First will receive a $3 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. Child First is an evidence-based, two-generation, home-based trauma and mental health intervention that heals and protects young children and families who have experienced trauma and adversity. 

“Congratulations to Child First on their grant to develop their new National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative – Category II Treatment and Service Adaption Center, The Center for Prevention and Early Trauma Treatment” Congressman Himes said. “Child First’s work is more important than ever as COVID-19 is creating new trauma for children and families that needs to be identified and addressed immediately. I’m proud that Child First started here in Southwest Connecticut, and now is expanding nation-wide.”

“This is an incredible opportunity to focus efforts on very young children and their families. We know that trauma and adversity can have profound negative impacts on the developing brains of young children.  However, through early efforts at prevention, identification, and treatment, these children and their families can thrive!” said Dr. Darcy Lowell, the founder and CEO of Child First. “We will work collaboratively with communities – including home visiting models, early care and education, pediatrics, child welfare systems, and mental health providers – to build a continuum of care that responds to individual family needs and strengths. We want to sincerely thank Representative Himes for his strong belief in the potential of our children and support for this initiative.”

This grant, distributed over the course of five years, will promote collaboration with early childhood providers and other stakeholders in five selected regions of the US to: 

·         Train community providers to understand the profound impact of trauma and adversity on the development of the young child

·         Help providers create nurturing, trauma-informed services and practices

·         Identify children and families who have experienced traumatic stress and have need for further intervention, and how and to whom to refer

·         Provide training in multiple trauma and mental health interventions which support families’ strengths  

The grant will allow Child First to expand its work with families who have the highest level of need, including parents experiencing poverty, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness and children suffering from emotional and behavioral problems, learning delays, and abuse and neglect. Child First was developed to reach families in need at home (now through telehealth) with a team of a licensed mental health clinician and a care coordinator. This dual approach enables families to be connected to comprehensive services and supports while receiving psychotherapeutic intervention to build a responsive, nurturing parent-child relationship, enhancing resilience. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the purpose of this grant is to provide national expertise for specific types of traumatic events, population groups, and service systems, and to support the specialized adaptation of effective evidence-based treatment and service approaches for communities across the nation. Click here to learn about this SAMHSA grant.