In the quiet corners of our neighborhoods and the bustling hallways of our schools, a silent epidemic is unfolding—a stark reality that reminds us that, indeed, “the kids are not alright.” Childhood trauma exposure, often concealed behind the resilient façade of our youth, casts a long and harrowing shadow over the lives of countless children in the United States.
Nearly half of the nation’s children under the age of 17 have encountered traumatic incidents during their formative years, and a third have experienced two or more such events. These incidents include witnessing or experiencing Family Violence, Sexual Abuse, Neglect, Child Abuse, Sex and/or Labor Trafficking, Community Violence, Bullying, or Traumatic Grief.
Research demonstrates that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) serve as the primary underlying cause of a wide array of economic, social, physical, and mental health challenges. Those who have endured more than four types of ACEs and have had few positive childhood experiences face an exceptionally high risk of both falling victim to and becoming perpetrators of violence. Additionally, they grapple with elevated rates of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, alcoholism, drug use, and tragically, suicide.
In response to this growing concern, FSC established the CARES (Children Advancing Through Recovery and Empowerment Services) Project, initially funded through grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Counselors in this program, all licensed therapists with master’s level qualifications, have undergone specialized training in a range of evidence-based therapies to address the unique issues these individuals face. Their mission is to provide counseling and supportive services proven effective in addressing symptoms commonly associated with trauma-exposed children and youth.
Since the expansion of the CARES project in 2018, FSC has delivered evidence-based, trauma-focused therapy to 831 children and youth across five counties. These young individuals have faced incredibly tough challenges, resulting in symptoms like PTSD, depression, anxiety, sexualized behaviors, and feelings of shame and mistrust. However, CARES has brought about a remarkable transformation.
It’s vital to acknowledge that while we have made significant strides in aiding these young individuals on their path to recovery, the need for such services far exceeds our current capacity to provide them. The prevalence of ACEs and their far-reaching consequences underscore the ongoing importance of programs like CARES. We must persist in our efforts to expand access to these critical services, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to heal and thrive, ultimately safeguarding the well-being and future of our entire society. Together, we can nurture a stronger and more resilient generation, one child at a time.
“It is easier to build strong children than fix broken adults.”
– Frederick Douglass
of those who completed the program:
reported a reduction in two or more PTSD symptoms
reported feeling less anxious and on edge
noted fewer tendencies to avoid things or situations
reported experiencing fewer distressing trauma memories
experienced improvements in their negative thought patterns
experienced a improved outlook for the future
expressed an improved sense of self