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New grant supports expected surge in calls to LINK-KID due to COVID-19

UMass Chan child trauma treatment referral program gearing up to meet demand

Jessica Griffin, PsyD 2.jpg
Jessica Griffin, PsyD, is executive director of the Child Trauma Training Center.

The Child Trauma Training Center at UMass Medical School has received supplemental funding to help ensure the center’s LINK-KID referral service has the capacity to handle an expected surge in calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $50,000 grant from the Lookout Foundation is part of the foundation’s effort to respond to the public health crisis with emergency grants for its established grantees.

“We all are going through a collective traumatic experience. During this pandemic, children, parents and professionals are more stressed than ever before due to unemployment, working from home, stay-at-home orders, fears regarding one’s health or that of their loved ones, and grief for those who have died due to COVID-19,” said Jessica Griffin, PsyD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and executive director of the Child Trauma Training Center. “The more resources we have to support the emotional health of children and families, the better equipped we will be to begin the healing process.”

LINK-KID is a centralized referral system that operates as a network of agencies with training in evidence-based trauma treatment to increase access to specialists, decrease wait times, and provide a referral and follow-up structure to keep children from falling through the cracks. The service is a major component of the Child Trauma Training Center, which Dr. Griffin established in 2013 with funding from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In addition to training mental health providers and referring children to treatment, the Child Trauma Training Center reaches pediatricians, teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses, probation officers, police officers, attorneys and judges across the commonwealth with the knowledge and skills to identify and address trauma-related symptoms.

The Boston-based Lookout Foundation is a private nonprofit established to improve the lives of underserved teenagers of all backgrounds by supporting holistic systems of progressive education, social justice, wellness and self-reliance to ensure a safe and healthy passage into adulthood.

“We know that children are currently suffering high rates of child abuse and violence in their homes without access to professionals who would ordinarily be able to report this maltreatment,” Griffin said. “We are grateful for the Lookout Foundation’s generous and unwavering support of our efforts to serve youth who experience trauma.”

Over the last several years, funding from the Lookout Foundation has enabled the Child Trauma Training Center to expand from regional to statewide support for children, youth and young adults from birth to age 25. The center is developing materials to support the emotional health of youth during the pandemic; compiling additional materials to share with youth, families and professionals across the commonwealth; and, in order to increase capacity, providing training and consultation to clinicians on how to provide trauma-focused treatment via telehealth.

Related story on UMassMedNow:
UMass Medical School child trauma expert co-authors COVID-19 resource for supporting children’s well-being