With the goal of inventing better ways to move forward for the next generation of children, the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island will invest $715,000 over the next three years into helping northern Vancouver Island children suffering from trauma and neglect.
On Monday, the organization brought together Diane Lloyd, interim CEO of the foundation, project co-leaders Dr. Carol Coxon and Dr. Bruce Perry to make the announcement at the Old House Hotel in Courtenay.
The Healing Childhood Trauma Partnership Project is an early intervention program for children up to six years of age, with complex emotional and developmental challenges, explained Coxon, a child and adolescent psychiatrist practising in Comox.
“Kids are chronically misunderstood and it’s too late,” she explained. “In psychiatry, we’re quite good in diagnosing. What we don’t have is a good sense of how do we help (children) heal?”
The project is the only mental health early intervention program in British Columbia that uses a neurobiology-informed approach to work with children, families and communities.
The project uses a brain map tool to assist in assessing where each child is in terms of neurological development and how that might impact their day-to-day functioning.
It uses the information to not only develop appropriate mental health interventions for each child, but also equip the parents, school and community with the information.
Guidance will be provided by Perry, author and an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Northwestern University in Chicago.
Project partners include Coxon and Perry, Island Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Comox Valley Child Development Association, Comox Valley Public Health Unit, two school districts and Jan Ference, infant-parent mental health fellow.
The project will involve a selected cohort of children who are suffering form severe trauma and dysregulation from the Comox Valley and Port Hardy areas, she explained.
Children will receive intensive therapy to address their stress-response system and increase their ability to regulate emotions and increase functioning in all developmental domains.
Additional financial support will be provided by Island Health and the Ministry of Child and Family Development.