Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS) will increase access to trauma-informed mental health services through its “Violence Prevention and Intervention Program” (VPIP) in Northern Virginia public schools. Services will promote trauma recovery in immigrant adolescents, children of immigrants, and their families; increase their resilience; and stabilize or improve their mental health.
Northern Virginia covers nearly 1,300 square miles of the Washington D.C. metro area. The target population for VPIP is immigrant adolescents and children of immigrants(s) - and their families - who have experienced trauma and are experiencing poverty in Northern Virginia. There are 387,409 youth ages six through seventeen in Northern Virginia; 35,168 (9%) are immigrant and 115,640 (30%) are native-born with parents who are immigrants. Of the 676,000 immigrants living in Northern Virginia, 32% are Hispanic immigrants who earn a median income of $66,200, just over half of the median income for the region. NVFS projects to primarily serve Hispanic immigrant adolescents and children of immigrants due to their low median income and unique, trauma-related needs. These needs extend from a higher exposure to gang violence, the threat of increased immigration enforcement, and an influx of children who have fled the extreme and unprecedented violence in Central America and have been exposed to complex trauma before, during, and after journeying to the U.S. Mental health services for the target population are cost-prohibitive, linguistically or culturally alienating, inaccessible, and/or lack a trauma-informed approach.
Established in 1924 and providing trauma-informed youth intervention services for more than two decades, NVFS is well-positioned to implement the proposed project. The traditional Evidence-Informed VPIP model is staffed by bilingual, culturally competent mental health counselors who provide a continuum of trauma-informed services to address the needs of recently immigrated adolescents including psychoeducation Groups, Individual and Family Mental Health Services, Educational Workshops, and Professional Development Workshops for child-serving professionals. To this, NVFS will overlay the Evidence-Based Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) to provide therapy groups that address the trauma-related needs of immigrant adolescents and children of immigrants who are able/ready to process their trauma. NVFS will serve 112 individuals comprised of children, adolescents, their families, and child-serving professionals in the first year and a total of 944 over the course of the five-year funding period.
NVFS’ VPIP will increase the resilience of Northern Virginia youth who have experienced trauma, which not just improves their lives, but improves the school and neighborhood climate for all, creates more connected communities, and reduces adverse social conditions such as gang involvement; human trafficking and other victimization; juvenile justice involvement; school disruptions; family violence; community violence; and child abuse and neglect.