Voices’ Blog

2018 GA Session Update: Building Political Will for Trauma-Informed Policies

Posted:  -  By: Emily Griffey

We are making slow and steady progress in our efforts to promote trauma-informed care as policymakers in Virginia become more aware of trauma-informed policy and practices. We asked the House and Senate to include language in their budgets to create a workgroup to begin to define trauma-informed practices across state agencies.

We had also hoped that the budgets would include funding for small innovation grants to continue support for innovative practices at the local level. While the House and Senate budgets did not include either of these recommendations specifically, they did include some language and recommendations that will keep the conversation going around trauma-informed policy and practice.

The House budget includes the following proposals:

  1. A workgroup focused on the Children’s Services Act (CSA) to explore evidence-based and trauma-informed care: The language establishes a workgroup under CSA to coordinate with the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services (DBHDS) and the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to transform the system of care for services that are evidence-based and trauma-informed.

This recommendation is a good first step to promote trauma-informed policy, however, we believe two essential elements are missing:  First, trauma-informed practices should align across many state agencies (Department of Education, Department of Social Services, and Department of Juvenile Justice). Second, trauma-informed policy and practice should not be limited to services and interventions, but should also apply to approaches—policies and procedures, training requirements, and professional competencies. We support this workgroup and ask for a broadening of its scope to incorporate these additional elements.

  1. Additional funding for Virginia’s Tiered Systems of Supports (VTSS): This budget amendment adds $250,000 each year to enable the Department of Education to provide training, technical assistance, and on-site coaching to public school teachers and administrators on implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports. The additional funds would be targeted to Title I and accreditation-denied schools.

The Senate budget includes a different take:

  1. Behavioral Health Transformation (funding and language): This budget amendment allocates $150,000 in the first year to university partners to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to transform the Medicaid and FAMIS behavioral health system. This funding will support research of the evidence-based and trauma-focused practices for behavioral health services, focus groups with stakeholders, and the development of the strategic plan.

Read more about other mental health budget proposals on our mental health blog.

These recommendations signal that our legislature wants to move forward with additional trauma-informed policies. We are heartened to see recommendations that touch on the Office of Children’s Services, education, and health care. We ask our legislators to move these recommendations forward in a coordinated direction, rather than in silos.

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