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New 5-year partnership announced to expand access to trauma-focused therapy across the U.S.

April 13, 2023

In early March, the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) announced the launch of a 5-year partnership with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to expand access to trauma-focused therapy, specifically to an evidence-based treatment model developed by Carrie Epstein and Steven Marans, co-directors of the Yale Center for Traumatic Stress and Recovery (YCTSR) at the Yale Child Study Center.

Epstein was recently interviewed on the One in Ten podcast by National Children’s Alliance Chief Executive Officer Teresa Huizar, for an episode titled PTSD Interrupted? that includes additional information about the treatment model, Child & Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) and how this brief, early intervention can help reduce symptoms in children and caregivers.

NCA oversees a thousand U.S. Child Advocacy Centers (CACs), where children are seen for forensic evaluations after disclosing physical or sexual abuse – and as part of SNF’s global health initiative, the partnership will enhance efforts to develop and roll out a new national CAC training program in this treatment, the CFTSI.

“We have had a very strong partnership with the NCA for over a decade, and they have been strong supporters in the dissemination of CFTSI to CACs across the country,” Epstein commented.

The goal is to train 1,000 clinicians in CFTSI by the end of the 5-year grant period, thus reaching thousands of children seen in CACs around the country. Another key outcome of this collaboration will be the opportunity to gather extensive implementation and clinical outcome data that will inform additional studies of the effectiveness of CFTSI in real-world settings.

CFTSI, a brief (5-8 sessions) evidence-based early mental health treatment, is the only treatment model developed specifically for implementation with children, adolescents, and their caregivers during the early phase of trauma response. It is intended for implementation soon after exposure to a potentially traumatic event or after a recent disclosure of physical or sexual abuse made in a forensic interview. These interviews are typically conducted in a CAC or by a similar investigative body.

This brief, early treatment has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing traumatic stress symptoms and reducing or interrupting PTSD and related disorders, including for children who have had extensive trauma histories prior to the most recent event that precipitated their referral for the treatment.

CFTSI consistently demonstrates a significant decrease in children’s trauma symptoms, as well as symptoms of the participating caregiver, whether in response to individual and family experiences of traumatic events or in the aftermath of mass-casualty events that can impact the broader community. Additionally, the brevity and effectiveness of CFTSI helps reduce the need for longer-term care, alleviates long waitlists that characterize the current children’s mental health crisis, increases access, and allows programs to serve more children.

“We see this initiative as not only part of the continued development of our decade-long partnership with the NCA, but also as a demonstration of the success of our decades-long efforts to increase the accessibility of CFTSI for the many children who are impacted by sexual and physical abuse each year and to enhance their opportunities for healing, recovery and optimal development,” said Epstein.

Submitted by Crista Marchesseault on April 12, 2023