$1.9 Million Grant Will Expand Services for Missouri Children who Experience Trauma

female doctor with young patient
Funds will benefit children and families in areas where mental health access is limited

A shortage of mental health care providers has created a barrier to access for more than 60% of Missouri parents with children younger than 12, according to a 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health.

In central Missouri, the child maltreatment rate and the number of children entering protective custody exceeds the state average.

Laine Young-Walker, MD
Laine Young-Walker, MD

These and other factors put children in this region at a greater risk for trauma exposure, and that’s why the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is providing a $1.9 million grant over five years to fund the Central Missouri Child Trauma Initiative (CM-CTI) through the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. The funds will increase access to sustainable, trauma-focused, evidence-based interventions for children where services are limited.

“National rates of childhood trauma exposure are staggering, with 70% of children experiencing at least one traumatic event by age 18,” said principal investigator Laine Young-Walker, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Robert J. Douglas, MD, and Betty Douglas Distinguished Professor in Psychiatry. “This grant will allow us to effectively serve trauma-exposed children here in Missouri by building a sustainable network of mental health professionals who can provide services, outreach and support for families in areas where needs are unmet.”

Leslie Luchene, PhD
Leslie Luchene, PhD

The initial goal for the grant money is to provide Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Trauma and Grief Component Therapy (TGCT) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) to 90 children each year. Future year goals include building a sustainable child trauma workforce to further expand these services and to provide trauma outreach and screenings to hundreds of additional children throughout the state.

“The University of Missouri is centrally located, positioning us to focus as a hub for outreach to rural areas throughout the state,” said project director Leslie Luchene, PhD, adjunct associate professor of clinical psychiatry. “We plan to establish a child trauma specialty clinic at MU, which will leverage existing collaborations with other departments on campus to build a child trauma workforce that will establish our center as a leader in child traumatic stress in the region.”  

The SAMHSA grant runs through May 2025.