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October 8, 2020

Pressley and Maloney to Introduce Bold Legislation to Address Growing Childhood Trauma Crisis

STRONG Support for Children Act: Bill Text | One-Pager | Section-by-Section

Children’s Protection Act: Bill TextOne-Pager | Section-by-Section

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced their plan to introduce a pair of bills that take a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma.  After years of regulatory assaults by the Trump Administration on the health and wellbeing of America’s children, the coronavirus pandemic has increased and exacerbated childhood trauma across the nation.  This moment demands critical resources to support our children, families and communities.

“Too often our response to childhood trauma fails to reach those most impacted or to address the systemic failures that trigger it,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “As we face a global pandemic, an economic recession, a climate crisis, and a national reckoning on police brutality and racial justice, we must act urgently and intentionally in our efforts to protect the mental health and wellbeing of our children.  It is past time to take bold action to address the intersecting crises that often trigger childhood trauma and destabilize families and entire communities for generations, such as poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, and a lack of culturally competent health care. By ensuring that young people have the culturally competent, neighborhood-based care and resources they need, the STRONG Support for Children Act disrupts cycles of intergenerational trauma and creates pathways for healing and liberation. I’m grateful for Chairwoman Maloney’s partnership as we work to center our children and provide them with the trauma-informed support necessary to thrive.”

“Childhood trauma and insecurity is a public health crisis in this country,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “Congress must pass the Children’s Protection Act and the STONG Support for Children Act to ensure that the federal government prioritizes the health and wellbeing of our children and is a partner in breaking the cycle of intergenerational trauma fueled by race and class discrimination.  Every child deserves to grow up feeling safe and supported with the tools they need to create their best future, and federal actions should never undermine this bedrock value.  I’m proud to continue the work of the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, who held the first ever Congressional hearings on childhood trauma.”

Unaddressed childhood trauma is linked to several leading causes of death in America, including heart disease, lung disease, substance use, and suicide.  Studies show that exposure to poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and malnutrition, discrimination, family separation, and deportation increase likelihood of negative health outcomes and can lead to complex trauma and toxic stress.  

The Services and Trauma-informed Research of Outcomes in Neighborhood Grants for (STRONG) Support for Children Act, led by Congresswoman Pressley, would establish two new grant programs to support local Public Health Departments in addressing trauma and ensure that programming is conveniently located and accessible to all children and families regardless of immigration status, ability to pay, and prior involvement in the criminal legal system. The legislation would prohibit grant recipients from using funds to increase surveillance and policing of vulnerable communities.

The STRONG Support for Children Act is endorsed by FamilyAid Boston, Zero to Three, Campaign for Trauma Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP), Healthy Schools Campaign, National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Dr. Kushak Suchdev (Boston University), Massachusetts Advocates for Children, Starr Commonwealth, Committee for Children, The Trauma-Informed Community Initiative of Western New York, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Center for Community Resilience, Family Service Association of San Antonio, National Crittenton, Mental Health America, Hillsides, Codman Square NDC, Children’s Home & Aid, Child and Family Resources, Inc., Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc., Mass Transgender Political Coalition, Harvard Trauma and Learning Policy Institute, Boston Public Health Commission, Children’s Mental Health Campaign, Jane Doe, Inc., Inquilinos Boricuas En Accion, National Child Abuse Coalition, Community Catalyst, National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, 2Life Communities, Children’s Defense Fund, Artemis Associates, LLC, Massachsuetts Head Start Association, Monique W. Morris, Ed.D., Redstone Center for Prevention and Wellness, Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, Children’s Trust Fund Alliance, National League for Nursing, National Youth Employment Coalition, National Family Support Network, Family Focused Treatment Association, Families USA, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Oregon School-Based Health Alliance, Futures Without Violence, the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health, and Girls Inc.

Read a letter of support for the STRONG Support for Children’s Act here.

The Children’s Protection Act, led by Chairwoman Maloney, would require all proposed federal rules to undergo a childhood trauma impact study before being finalized to ensure that the health, wellbeing, and futures of all children in America are prioritized.  The bill is endorsed by American Federation of Teachers; Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP); Child Welfare League of America; Children’s Defense Fund; Children’s Environmental Health Network; Coalition on Human Needs; Community Change Action; Earthjustice; First Focus Campaign for Children; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Hunger Free America; MAZON:  A Jewish Response to Hunger; Milken Institute School of Public Health Center for Community Resilience and Sumner M. Redstone Center for Prevention and Wellness; Moms Clean Air Force; MomsRising; NETWORK Lobby for Catholic School Justice; Public Citizen; RESULTS; and Share Our Strength.

Throughout her career, Congresswoman Pressley has been a tireless advocate for trauma-conscious policymaking. In July 2019, she worked with Chairman Cummings to convene the first-ever Congressional hearings on childhood trauma.  Watch Congresswoman Pressley’s full question line and follow-up questions here and here.  

As a Boston City Councilor, she convened the Council’s first-ever listening-only session to hear directly from those impacted by the trauma of community gun violence.   

In December, she introduced H.R. 5325, the Ending PUSHOUT Act, to end the traumatic criminalization of Black, brown, and indigenous girls in school.  Earlier this summer, she introduced H.R. 7848, the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, to reduce the growing presence of school-based police officers and invest in school nurses, social workers, mental health practitioners, and other professionals trained in trauma-aware practices.

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