Capito, Durbin, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Address Childhood Trauma

Legislation would expand support for children who have experienced trauma, address cycle of violence, addiction

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—along with U.S. Representatives Danny Davis (D-Ill.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.)—introduced bipartisan legislation to increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma, such as witnessing violence, parental addiction, or abuse. Building off comprehensive federal legislation they passed in 2018 to help children exposed to trauma, the Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act expands upon a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last month and would help to build the trauma-informed workforce and increase resources for communities to support children who have experienced trauma.
“I’m happy to once again work with Senator Durbin to address the impact of trauma on children. The RISE from Trauma Act builds on the work we did last year as part of the SUPPORT Act and addresses many of the additional needs I have heard from across West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “By expanding our trauma-informed workforce and increasing resources for our communities, we are helping them provide assistance and hope to our most vulnerable and working to ensure our next generation can pursue a strong and healthy future.”
“As we work to address the root causes of violence and addiction in our communities, we need to focus on the impact that exposure to violence and other traumatic experiences have on children,” Senator Durbin said. “In the long run, unaddressed trauma can impact mental and physical health, school success, income, employment, and can contribute to a continued cycle of violence. Our bill recognizes the ripple effect that trauma can have and seeks to provide our children with the support to address their emotional scars and thrive in the future.”
“Far too many people across our country have been forced to deal with the harmful impact of violence and addiction in their communities and many have lost family members, friends and neighbors to senseless violence and to addiction themselves. We need to do everything we can to ensure those who grieve or have endured trauma are able to receive the care and support they need, especially children who have been affected at such a formative age,” Senator Duckworth said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill to provide more resources for communities where they are needed most.”
“Decades of research have established a link between a child’s exposure to trauma and its effect on neurological and behavioral development. When children experience traumatic events, such as witnessing domestic violence or a parental drug overdose, the impacts can be significant and long-lasting. But the impacts of such trauma can be reduced and even prevented by providing parents, schools, healthcare organizations, social service providers, and others with the training and tools they need to provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for children,” Senator Murkowski said. “I’m proud to help lead legislation that will help expand the trauma-informed workforce and increase resources for communities in need.  While our goal should be that no child is exposed to trauma, we know the reality is a different story. Children don’t get to choose the environments they grow up in—we owe it to them to ensure they have the support and resources they need to live happy, healthy lives.”
Nationwide, nearly 35 million children have had at least one traumatic experience, and nearly two-thirds of children have been exposed to violence. Far too many kids carry the emotional weight of community violence and other traumatic experiences, such as the daily stress of abuse or neglect at home, a parent battling addiction, or an incarceration of a loved one. Trauma can create stress on the developing brain and force children into constant “survival mode.”
Decades of research have established the link between a child’s exposure to trauma, its effect on neurological and behavioral development, and long-term negative outcomes. Left unaddressed, childhood trauma can impact mental and physical well-being. In fact, studies show that individuals who have experienced six or more ACEs have a 20 year shorter average life expectancy, and those who have experienced four or more ACEs are ten times more likely to use illicit narcotics and 12 times more likely to attempt suicide. Yet only a small fraction of the children in need of support to address trauma receive such care.
Last year, Senators Durbin, Capito, and Murkowski helped pass provisions that created a federal task force across agencies to establish a national strategy and promote trauma best practices across all relevant grant programs; created a new $50 million mental health in schools program; increased funding for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ (HHS) National Child Traumatic Stress Network by $17 million; and expanded the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program to allow clinicians to serve in schools.
The RISE from Trauma Act would expand and support the trauma-informed workforce in schools, health care settings, social services, first responders, and the justice system, and increase resources for communities like Chicago to address the impact of trauma. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Increase funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) National Health Service Corps loan repayment program, in order to recruit more mental health clinicians.


  • Enhance federal training programs at HHS, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Education to provide more tools for early childhood clinicians, teachers, school leaders, first responders, and certain community leaders.


  • Create a new HHS grant program to support hospital-based trauma interventions, such as for patients that suffer violent injuries, in order to address mental health needs, prevent re-injury, and improve long-term outcomes.


  • Create a new HHS grant program to fund community-based coalitions that coordinate stakeholders to address trauma.


  • Create a new HHS program to monitor and enforce health insurance parity requirements for coverage of infant and early childhood mental health services.


  • Expand and strengthen the AmeriCorps program and several HRSA health profession training programs to prioritize recruitment and programming in communities that have experienced trauma. 

The legislation is endorsed by the following organizations: National Head Start Association; National Children's Alliance; National Education Association; Illinois Education Association; American Federation of Teachers; American Psychological Association; American Psychiatric Association; Futures Without Violence; Zero to Three; Mental Health America; Families USA; Alliance for Strong Families and Communities; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice; Committee for Children; Trust for America’s Health; School Social Work Association of America; School-Based Health Alliance; Children’s Home Society of America; Girls, Inc.; Clinical Social Work Association; National Association of School Psychiatrists; National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health; Treatment Communities of America; IDEA Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association; Building Community Resilience Collaborative; The Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness (George Washington University School of Public Health); National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health; Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL); 2020 Mom; Arts Alliance Illinois; Alaskan Children’s Trust; Roundtable on Native American Trauma-Informed Initiatives; Communities In Schools, National Office.


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