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Aunt Martha’s on hand as Illinois Launches Healing-Centered Task Force to Address Childhood Trauma


In a groundbreaking initiative, Illinois has launched a Healing-Centered Task Force to address the impacts of childhood trauma. Raul Garza, representing Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, delivered an inspiring speech at the launch event, emphasizing the importance of trauma-informed care. In this blog post, we will delve into the key points of his remarks and discuss the significance of this task force in Illinois.

History of Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness

Garza began by expressing gratitude for the invitation to share Aunt Martha’s story and highlighting the agency’s long commitment to serving children experiencing trauma. He traced the organization’s roots back 52 years when it started as a drop-in center in Park Forest. The drop-in center was created as a safe space for children who felt locked out or compelled to run away. Over the years, Aunt Martha’s services have expanded, reaching 35 locations statewide.

Evolving Care Models to Address Childhood Trauma

As medical and clinical understanding of childhood trauma evolved, so did Aunt Martha’s care models. Most notably, our Integrated Care Center, developed over several years and lauched in 2019, is the only medically-led child wellness program of its kind nationally. The center provides holistic and integrated care to the most acute children under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Garza stressed the need for a trauma-informed approach, showing how data from Aunt Martha’s indicates improved health outcomes for youth in their care. Acts of aggression, runaways, hospitalizations have reduced, and feedback from children and youth has been positive.

Connection Between Childhood Trauma and Health Conditions

Garza emphasized the connection between childhood trauma and various medical and mental health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, and inflammatory conditions. Through their expansive network of clinics across Illinois, Aunt Martha’s has witnessed a 54% remission rate for depression within 12 months. This remarkable outcome has garnered recognition as a national model.

Redesigning the Juvenile Detention System

Garza proudly shared Aunt Martha’s involvement in the redesign of the juvenile detention system, collaborating with the Cook County Department of Juvenile Probation and Chapin Hall, the research arm of the University of Chicago. The goal is to create a state-of-the-art program that emphasizes assessing juvenile offenders, identifying necessary resources, and strengthening the family unit. Garza raised a concerning statistic that highlights the unnecessary incarceration of 40% of youth and children in Cook County’s juvenile detention. Aunt Martha’s aims to alleviate this situation by working towards alternative placements and support systems.

The Impact of the Illinois Healing-Centered Task Force

Garza expressed confidence in the Illinois Healing-Centered Task Force Childhood Trauma’s ability to make a significant impact on the well-being of communities throughout Illinois. Aunt Martha’s is excited to play a meaningful role in this collaborative effort. By bringing together various stakeholders and experts, the task force aims to develop comprehensive strategies to address childhood trauma effectively.

With the launch of the task force, Illinois is taking a significant step towards addressing the long-lasting impacts of childhood trauma. By fostering collaboration and implementing evidence-based strategies, the Healing-Centered Task Force has the potential to create positive change throughout the state.

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