Mayor Scott Issues Policy Guidance: All Agency Heads Must Receive Trauma-Informed Care Training Within 30 Days
Thursday Jan 7th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (January 7, 2021) -- This morning, Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Councilman Zeke Cohen hosted a press conference to formally issue policy guidance requiring all senior-level cabinet members to be trained in Trauma-Informed Care within 30 days. This training will commence the implementation of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act.
The Elijah Cummings Healing City Act makes Baltimore the first major city in America to comprehensively legislate trauma-informed care. Baltimore has suffered over three hundred homicides for the last six years. Addressing trauma is a critical component of reducing violence. The law calls for each city agency to become trained in how to effectively respond to and treat trauma.
Trainings will be conducted by the Health Department in partnership with community-based organizations. The legislation also authorizes a task force charged with developing a citywide strategy for reducing and addressing trauma.
In Baltimore, 42% of adults have experienced three or more “Adverse Childhood Experiences,” (major traumatic events), compared to just 24% of Marylanders. Exposure to untreated trauma has been linked to depression, anxiety, addiction, suicide and violence. The negative impacts of trauma can be prevented and reduced through “systems of care.”
“I have always said violence is fundamentally a public health issue, and addressing trauma is critical to prioritizing the lives of Baltimoreans. Building a safer city will require us to fundamentally transform how we operate across our City agencies. Implementing the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act is a core part of that strategy,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “Although we continue to navigate the dual public health emergencies of gun violence and this pandemic, I know that 2021 will also be a year of healing. In partnership with Councilman Cohen and the Trauma-Informed Care Taskforce, we will act with urgency. The time to start this work is now.”
Councilman Zeke Cohen sponsored the legislation and will co-chair the Trauma-Informed Care Taskforce.
“Our city continues to suffer under ceaseless violence and structural inequality. Too often, our government has contributed to traumatizing our most vulnerable residents. We have an opportunity to lead the nation in healing, by bringing community and government together. In order to build a safe, thriving city, we must eradicate the trauma that fuels the violence,” said Councilman Cohen.
Council President Nick J. Mosby supports Councilman Cohen’s plan to introduce a resolution at Monday’s meeting for immediate adoption to provide training on trauma-informed care to the membership.
“Whether we’re talking about the child who is depressed and cannot concentrate in school, the young man who pulls a trigger to end a dispute and instead ends a life or the woman who succumbs to a heroin addiction desperate and alone in her car, we can almost always find trauma at the center of the devastation,” Council President Mosby said. “Too many of our residents are walking around with the weight of agony and suffering from the harm they’ve endured. We certainly cannot solve this pain instantaneously with this training or a task force, but we can come together as Baltimore’s leaders as we have here to act deliberately and with urgency to make things better tomorrow than they are today.”
Mayor Scott and Councilman Cohen were joined by Delegate Robbyn Lewis who is co-sponsoring legislation at the state level that mirrors the Healing City Act. They were also joined by City Council President Nick J. Mosby, Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa, A’niya Taylor, a youth activist who has advocated for systems change in our approach to trauma, Dr. Melissa Buckley, faculty at Coppin State University and a leader in the Healing City Baltimore movement. They spoke to the importance of addressing trauma and supporting mental health.