The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence and Childhood Violent Trauma Center at the Yale Child Study Center

Since 1991, the Yale Child Study Center has been on the cutting edge of the development of collaborative to children exposed to violence. In partnership with the New Haven Department of Police Service, the Child Development-Community Policing (CD-CP) program was developed to capitalize on the significant role that law enforcement could play in responding to and aiding the recovery of, children and families exposed to violence. Over twelve years ago, under the Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder’s pioneering leadership, the DOJ launched the Children Exposed to Violence Initiative and took ground-breaking steps to focus national attention on child victims and witnesses to violence, recognizing the vital role of law enforcement and criminal justice system reforms in addressing this critical issue, and supporting innovative prevention and early intervention programs that made real progress in breaking the cycle of violence and keeping kids and communities safe. The establishment of a national center on children exposed to violence was a vital part of the Initiative, and in May 1999 DAG Holder inaugurated the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV) at the Yale Child Study Center. The creation of the NCCEV represented the culmination of years of productive programmatic collaboration between the Yale Child Study Center and OJJDP, OVW and OVC focusing on innovative law enforcement/mental health partnership developed in New Haven. 

Since its inauguration, the NCCEV at the Yale Child Study Center has: (1) developed and implemented innovative multi-disciplinary collaborative program models such as the CD-CP program, the Domestic Violence Home Visiting Intervention, and the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) that provide immediate coordinated police, mental health, and social service interventions, and follow-up services to children and families exposed to violence and trauma; (2) provide training, TA and consultation to numerous law enforcement agencies and multi-disciplinary collaborations throughout the country and abroad that respond to children and families exposed to violence; (3) provide multidisciplinary training to first responders and emergency management personnel whose work involves acute interventions with children exposed to violence and other catastrophic events; (4) provide nation-wide consultation services in times of crisis (including schools and community mass shootings, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) to communities, law enforcement agencies, mental health providers, schools, media outlets, and local, state, and national government leaders on issues relating to children exposed to violence and trauma; (5) supported public awareness and policy initiatives relating to children exposed to violence (including providing testimony to Congress, disseminating NCCEV’s briefing, training, and public education materials to first responders, mental health providers, child welfare providers, educators, and federal, state local government leaders); and (6) provide extensive direct clinical services to children and families exposed to violence and other traumatic events.

The first of its kind to have broad reach, CD-CP has been used as a model for law enforcement-mental health partnerships across the country. CD-CP has been adapted in 16 US communities—including 3 tribal communities—as well as internationally. In 1995, OJJDP recognized CD-CP as a promising practice and funded replication in four cities. A multi-disciplinary team from Charlotte, NC was the first to experience the 40-hour training at Yale, and developed a mid-size urban community program that grew to be the busiest in the country. As colleagues in Charlotte emerged as leaders in the field, the NCCEV named the Charlotte program the Southeast Regional Training Center in 2004. In addition, CD-CP partnerships have become a resource for communities facing recovery following large-scale man-made and natural disasters (E.g. school shootings, 9/11 and terrorist threats, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Chengdu earthquakes). Lessons learned from CD-CP have also been widely disseminated to government officials, professionals and parents through training materials and practical guidelines. Principles and materials to support law enforcement response to CEV were developed at NCCEV based on considerable time spent together on the part of law enforcement and mental health professionals. Key strategies developed at NCCEV include: immediate/on-scene & follow-up collaborative response to violent & catastrophic events 24/7; Seminars for clinicians on basic police practices; Clinician/police ride-alongs that build working relationships and shared knowledge base; Weekly case review to develop strategies to address specific needs of referred families; Protocols have also been developed which can guide the way officers respond to CEV in specific situations.


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