Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $972,406)
The Massachusetts Justice and Equity for Child Trauma (MAJECT) project aims to address the increasing mental health disparities faced by underserved and marginalized children and youth (ages 0-17) who have been exposed to violence and their families. Target populations include youth of color, child welfare involved youth, LGBTQ+ youth, and juvenile justice involved youth. These populations are disproportionately impacted by violence, trauma, and maltreatment and underserved by mental health professionals. MAJECT will provide trauma-informed evidence-based practices (EBPs) to bridge the gap between what is known to work and what can realistically be implemented with existing resources. The proposed interventions include Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC). There are significant challenges to the implementation of trauma-informed care, including a lack of resources for trauma-related work in the child welfare system and limited mental health providers trained in trauma-informed, EBPs for children and youth.
The project's comprehensive approach will be guided by the Planning Team, which includes stakeholders from various sectors. MAJECT will provide trauma-informed EBPs and parenting curricula to underserved communities in MA to promote racial equity and remove barriers to access and opportunity. The project's theory of change is to increase self-esteem, engagement in positive activities, social competence, and school engagement; improve mental health symptoms; decrease substance misuse and symptoms of posttraumatic stress; and decrease contact with the juvenile justice system, and develop parenting skills, improve parent-child relationships, reduce rates of victimization and child maltreatment, and increase rates of placement permanency outcomes. The project will recruit children, youth, and families from the target populations and collect data to evaluate program performance. The evaluation specialist will develop a system for data collection and evaluation. The outputs of the project will measure the demographic breakdown of the clients, types of services utilized, and the prevention and intervention outcomes of eligible clients. Other program quality and protective factors will be evaluated, including the pre/post treatment change in multiple mental health metrics and functional indicators, and rates of victimization of any type, including non-violent victimization, violent victimization, and substantiated or indicated child maltreatment.
In summary, MAJECT aims to provide trauma-informed EBPs and parenting curricula to underserved and marginalized children, youth, and families exposed to violence. The project's comprehensive approach and proposed interventions will increase equitable access to trauma-informed care among the most vulnerable children, youth, and families in Massachusetts.