Skip to Main Content

The Child Development-Community Policing Program


Originated as a partnership between the Yale Child Study Center and the New Haven Department of Police Service in 1991, the Child Development-Community Policing (CD-CP) program continues to serve the city of New Haven as the national theory and practice development site for law enforcement-mental health collaborations to respond to children and families exposed to violence. In addition, the CD-CP program has been replicated and adapted in numerous communities across the country.

In CD-CP communities, mental health professionals are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond immediately to police calls involving child victims or witnesses to violence and communities impacted by violence or potentially traumatic events. Working together, police, mental professionals, child protective service and other providers, coordinate multi-system interventions that work to re-establish safety and provide varying levels of support to children and families in the immediate wake of violent events. CD-CP has served as a model for law enforcement-mental health partnerships around the country.

Police officers play a central part in the intervention, capitalizing on their roles as representatives of control and authority in the face of violent and traumatic events that lead to the experience of loss of control/order. In the CD-CP model, clinicians and officers set the most vulnerable children and families on the path to recovery, interrupting a trajectory that frequently leads to increased risk of long-term consequences such as psychiatric problems, academic failure, encounters with the criminal justice system, and perpetuation of the cycle of violence.

Selected Publications

  • Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence
  • Listening to Fear: Helping Kids Cope, from Nightmares to the Nightly News
  • The Police-Mental Health Partnership: A Community-Based Response to Urban Violence
  • Marans, S., Smolover, D., & Hahn, H. (2012). Responding to childhood trauma: Theory, programs and policy. In E. L. Grigorenko (Ed.), Handbook of juvenile forensic psychology and psychiatry, (pp. 453–456). New York: Springer.

More Information

Program Specifics

The program is based on three premises deeply rooted in the day-to-day experiences of both law enforcement and mental health professionals serving children exposed to violence:

Police officers are the most significant first responders to violent and catastrophic events that affect children’s lives, yet they frequently lack both the specialized training and necessary partnerships to meaningfully respond to the children exposed to violence whom they serve.

Conversely, mental health and other social service professionals are often unlikely to come into contact with the vast majority of children “at risk” of developing negative outcomes as a result of their violence exposure at a time when early intervention could make a real difference in those children’s lives.

Without effective early identification and intervention strategies police officers too often will see the same children continue on a trajectory from child victim/witness to juvenile/adult offender. Without effective early identification and intervention strategies, mental health and other social services providers are frequently hampered in their ability to render meaningful support to these children and aid in the interruption of the cycle of violence.

CD-CP partners law enforcement officers with mental health and other social service providers at the earliest opportunity and offers multi-disciplinary acute and follow-up services that provide the early identification of, and the early intervention to, at-risk youth that are so critical to making a meaningful impact on children’s lives and keeping kids and communities safe.

Core Components of the CD-CP Program

The New Haven CD-CP Program involves the following core components:

  • Cross training for police, clinicians and other professionals involved in the program. Police are trained in trauma-informed policing via Enhancing Law Enforcement Responses to Children Exposed to Violence that includes training on child development and trauma. Clinicians and outreach staff are trained in police procedures and policies that includes ride-alongs with police. Both police and clinical and outreach staff are trained in the components of the program, including protocols for acute responses, follow-up home visits, canvassing and death notifications.
  • Acute response and follow-up service, where YCTSR faculty and trainees respond with police colleagues to calls involving child victims or witnesses to violence in their homes, schools or the broader community, as well as other potentially traumatic events, such as serious accidents, sudden deaths, fires or animal attacks. Joint police officer and clinician follow-up home visits are also provided to help provide support and ensure the safety/security of families following a traumatic event.
  • Neighborhood canvassing following broader scale potentially traumatic events jointly conducted with New Haven Police Department supervisors and officers and YCTSR clinicians and outreach staff aimed at addressing issues of safety, increasing families’ awareness of possible traumatic reactions, and connecting families to resources including trauma-focused clinical services available through our Trauma Clinic.
  • Death notifications to families following the sudden or unexpected death of a family member conducted by police and clinical teams
  • Weekly interdisciplinary program conference, a forum where police, , DCF representatives, and clinicians review cases and coordinate follow-up plans for the children and families referred to the program.
  • The YCTSR Trauma Clinic, which provides trauma assessment and trauma-focused treatment, including the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), for children and families who are at high risk for psychological and functional impairment due to exposure to violence and other potentially traumatic experiences.