Voices’ Blog

Fairfax County Is Building Strong Brains By Addressing Childhood Trauma

Posted:  -  By: Cassie Price

Written by Mary Beth Testa, Voices’ Northern Virginia consultant

On Nov. 21, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to designate Fairfax County as a trauma-informed community (TIC). Mason District supervisor Penny Gross introduced the resolution, signaling a commitment to help vulnerable children and emphasizing the urgency of this work for local families.

Chrissy Cunningham, prevention coordination specialist with the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services, thanked the supervisors and said:

“We believe that the implementation of trauma-informed care, and the resilience-building strategies that are such an important part of that work, are not the responsibility of any one agency, organization, or discipline. For Fairfax County residents to have the best experience of service delivery across our system, we all need to have a common understanding and a shared language when it comes to adverse childhood experiences, toxic stress, and resilience.

“While many of the children, youth, and families we serve have stories of traumatic experiences to share, we know that living in conditions of poverty and exposure to discrimination and racism create the very same stress responses in [people’s] bodies and brains … as more commonly understood traumatic experiences do. We cannot build a trauma-informed system without the spirit of One Fairfax behind us, and we cannot implement One Fairfax without considering the impact of trauma and the historical and generational trauma created by racial and social inequities.”

Trauma-Informed Community Networks  

At Voices we know that recognizing childhood trauma has become a necessary component of shaping policy to improve child outcomes. Many child-serving systems now aim to become trauma informed and are putting measures into place to strengthen youth resilience, thereby helping improve outcomes for children from early childhood education, to K-12 schools, to foster care and the juvenile justice system.

The Fairfax Trauma-Informed Community Network (TICN) is one of nine such networks across the commonwealth working to implement the principles of trauma-informed care across our health, human services, and education systems. Fairfax County Public Schools, health and human services agencies, and many nonprofit and private provider partner organizations are participating in the Fairfax TICN.

Working together to advocate locally and connect to state policy change

Organizations from across the county and region added their support to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ trauma-informed community resolution, thanking the board for its commitment to building lasting foundations for county residents through trauma-informed practices and service delivery models.

Voices looks forward to working with our TICN partners in Fairfax to ensure children and families in Fairfax and across the commonwealth have opportunities to succeed.

Read the statement of support for the Fairfax resolution.

Learn more about One Fairfax.

Check out the KIDS COUNT data on child well-being in Virginia and use data about Northern Virginia for advocacy.

Read Voices’ state-level trauma-informed-care recommendations to the General Assembly in 2018.

To find out more about opportunities to promote resilience and address childhood trauma, sign up for legislative updates from Voices for Virginia’s Children.


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