ZERO TO THREE Applauds Reintroduction of Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (“RISE”) from Trauma Act

Jun 17, 2021

Organization urges Congress to swiftly enact legislation to protect infants, toddlers, and families

This week, a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate reintroduced the Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (“RISE”) from Trauma Act, aimed at supporting children who have been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, hailed the legislation as taking critical steps to address the needs of our country’s infants and toddlers. The bill was introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

ZERO TO THREE Chief Policy Officer Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor stated:

“Healthy social-emotional development is the bedrock of early brain development, and promoting positive mental health, preventing mental health struggles, and addressing trauma and mental health conditions in the earliest years can make all the difference for a child’s development. Unfortunately, the capacity to provide these services depends on a highly skilled clinical workforce that is grappling with extreme provider shortages and a lack of racial and cultural diversity necessary to meet the needs of families.

“Too often, communities do not have a single mental health clinician capable of meeting the needs of families with very young children, making it nearly impossible to detect and address warning signs or treat emerging disorders. We are thrilled that Sens. Durbin, Capito, Duckworth, and Murkowski have reintroduced the RISE from Trauma Act, which will establish a national network of training institutes to expand and increase diversity of this crucial workforce and build the infant and early childhood mental health system young children need.”

Healthy, nurturing relationships with parents and caregivers lay the foundation for a baby’s social and emotional development, also known as infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH). Policies and programs that fall along a promotion, prevention, and treatment continuum can provide parents and young children with support to promote social and emotional development and prevent and treat mental health issues as early as possible.

The RISE from Trauma Act would award grants to eligible entities to establish a national network of IECMH training institutes. Additional grant funds can be used to create scholarships and other supports for trainees, with emphasis on recruiting, retention, and career placement of trainees of color, who are underrepresented in the IECMH clinical workforce. The historic legislation places an emphasis on collaboration that will reflect diverse partnerships, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges, and State Associations of Infant Mental Health.

Additionally, the legislation would:

  • Increase funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Health Service Corps to expand the reach of available mental health clinicians in schools and community-based settings;
  • Enhance, through the use of partnership grants, trauma-informed and resilience-focused practice among general education, special education teachers, and early childhood educators;
  • Enhance coordination between the Department of Health and Human Services and appropriate stakeholders with trauma-informed subject matter expertise to develop accessible and easily understandable tools for use by frontline service providers; and
  • Establish a National Law Enforcement Child and Youth Trauma Coordinating Center to provide assistance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in interacting with infants, children, and families who have experienced trauma.

According to ZERO TO THREE’s State of Babies Yearbook 2021, nearly 8 percent of infants and toddlers nationwide have already had two or more adverse experiences in their lifetime, and more than 20 percent have had at least one. And studies show that evidence-based trauma treatments return $3.64 per dollar invested. A robust, well-trained, and diverse IECMH workforce would have tremendous impact on the healthy social and emotional development of infants, toddlers, and their families.

To learn more about the importance of policies that support IECMH and the clinical workforce, visit the Think Babies resource page.

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    Max Samis

    Communications Manager, Media and Public Relations