Mt. Hope Family Center expands children's trauma therapy
The University of Rochester’s Mt. Hope Family Center is expanding programming for refugee and local children coping with complex trauma.
The center offers therapeutic preschool programming, as well as after-school and summer offerings to nearly 1,000 families. Grants from the Wilson Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will help provide resources for about 200 more children over the course of two years.
“We’re getting to serve more children with this funding and specifically those unaccompanied international and refugee children,” said Alisa Hathaway, project director of Mt. Hope’s trauma treatment program, STRONGER.
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, trauma can be caused by bullying, community violence, witnessing domestic violence, and profound neglect and abuse.
If left untreated, trauma can lead to problems with brain development and with the ability to form and maintain relationships, said Jody Manly, clinical director of Mt. Hope Family Center, She also said it also can shorten a person’s lifespan by up to 20 years.
However, Manly said, therapeutic programming has shown to reduce symptoms.
“The risks are great and yet there is hope and there is a lot of opportunity as well,” she said.
For Hathaway, treating complex post-traumatic stress disorder in children is a matter of public health. Programming is available for children who have immigrated to the U.S. unaccompanied by a guardian and other immigrant and refugee youths, as well as for local children affected by traumatic events.
“If we have kids that are cared for, and they have strong mental health and development, then that’s a good sign of a unified and strong society and they’re the way of our future,” said Hathaway.