WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) this week introduced bipartisan legislation to increase support for children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma, including witnessing community violence, parental addiction, or abuse.

The Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act would dramatically increase funding for community-based efforts to prevent and mitigate the impact of trauma, and expand training and workforce development efforts to support health care, education, social service, first responders, and community leaders to foster resilience and deliver services to heal the impact of trauma.

“I’m glad to once again work with Senator Durbin to address the impact of trauma on children,” Senator Capito said. “The RISE from Trauma Act builds on our past work and reflects the needs I continue to hear across West Virginia. By increasing resources for our communities and expanding our trauma-informed workforce, we are helping to prevent future substance abuse and violence, provide assistance and hope to our most vulnerable, and empower our next generation."

“To effectively treat the root causes of violence and addiction in our communities, we must focus on the impact that exposure to violence and traumatic experiences have on children,” Senator Durbin said. “Unaddressed trauma can harm mental and physical health, life expectancy, school success, and employment, so we must take serious action to prevent the ripple effect that trauma can have. Our bipartisan legislation invests in communities and the workforce to support children and families facing trauma to heal their emotional scars and build a brighter future for our communities.”


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 or a deportation of a loved one. Trauma can create stress on the developing brain and force children into constant “survival mode,” impacting the way they process fear or form healthy relationships. Decades of research, including from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have established the link between a child’s exposure to trauma, its effect on neurological and behavioral development, and long-term negative outcomes. 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.

The RISE from Trauma Act builds upon the conclusions published in a 2019 GAO report and calls for increased resources and trauma-informed workforce for communities to support children who have experienced trauma. 

This bipartisan legislation also expands upon provisions that Senators Capito, Durbin, and Murkowski helped to pass in 2018 to create a federal task force across agencies to establish a national strategy and promote trauma best practices across all relevant federal grant programs, create a new $50 million mental health in schools program, increase funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Child Traumatic Stress Network by $17 million, increase funding for CDC research into ACEs, and expand the National Health Services Corps loan repayment program to allow clinicians to serve in schools.

The RISE from Trauma Act would expand the trauma-informed workforce in schools, health care settings, social services, first responders, and the justice system, and increase resources for communities to address the impact of trauma. Specifically, the bill would:

  • Create a new, $600 million annual HHS grant program to fund community-based coalitions that coordinate stakeholders and deliver targeted local services to address trauma.

  • 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.

  • Increase funding for the National Health Service Corps loan repayment program, in order to recruit more mental health clinicians—including from under-represented populations—to serve in schools.

  • Enhance federal training programs at HHS, 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 community leaders.

  • Establish training and certification guidelines to enable insurance reimbursement for community figures—such as mentors, peers, and faith leaders—to address trauma.

The legislation is endorsed by the following organizations: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Children’s Defense Fund, YMCA of the USA, Zero to Three, Futures without Violence, National Head Start Association, Center for Law and Social Policy, Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice, American Psychiatric Association, Trust for America’s Health, First Focus Campaign for Children, Family Focused Treatment Association, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Afterschool Alliance, Committee for Children, Prevent Child Abuse America, Girls Inc, Starr Commonwealth, MENTOR, and National Crittenton.

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