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Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Would Improve Supports for Infants and Young Children Exposed to Trauma

News June 13, 2019

A bipartisan bill introduced this week by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — along with Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) in the House of Representatives — would increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma. The Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act includes provisions that would specifically support infants and young children who have witnessed or experienced violence, parental addiction, or abuse.

The RISE from Trauma Act would increase resources for communities to support children who have experienced trauma as well as build a workforce of educators who are trained on the evidence-based trauma-informed practices.

During the first five years, a child’s brain is at its most flexible, making this a critical period for learning and growth. Science tells us that children who face adversity in the first years of life, often related to living in poverty, are more at risk for experiencing lifelong effects from toxic stress. Prolonged stress during childhood can do damage to a child’s brain architecture, which can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.

Supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress in children. Often, these relationships exist between parent and child, but many children experience these “serve and return” interactions from other adults, like teachers.

The RISE from Trauma Act includes grant funding for increased training for early care and learning providers through an Early Childhood Mental Health Clinical Leadership Program and would establish state and community training and centers of excellence to promote best practices to support young children. Additionally, the Act would establish parity for insurance coverage and payments for infants, early childhood, and youth mental health services to ensure that infants and young children are able to access mental health services when they need them.

Currently, only a small fraction of infants and young children in need of services to address trauma receive such care. This bipartisan bill recognizes the importance of early development and the impact that trauma can have when left unaddressed and provides additional access for children and providers.

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