Coventry schools head effort
to address childhood trauma

THE COVENTRY-TRAUMA Informed Community program is being funded with a $440,000 grant from the Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. From left, Coventry Public Schools Superintendent Craig Levis; Bob Robillard, executive director of the Coventry Resource and Senior Center; Matt Collins, chief medical officer of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island; Kayla David of Family Service of Rhode Island; and Rhode Island Foundation CEO and President Neil D. Steinberg. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND FOUNDATION

COVENTRY – A $440,000 grant to the Coventry Public School District will go toward training teachers, first responders and others who work directly with children to detect early signs of mental health needs.

The Rhode Island Foundation, through its Behavioral Health Fund, awarded the grant on Nov. 13 for use by the Coventry Trauma-Informed Community, a multi-agency group that includes Coventry schools and more than a dozen community groups.

Working with Family Service of Rhode Island, the Coventry police and fire departments and the Coventry Resource and Senior Center, the city’s educators plan to take aim at bullying, drug use, academic problems, suicidal thoughts and other issues that affect children and youths.

A growing awareness by city officials and others that significant trauma from things such as poverty, abuse, the death of a loved one and divorce can effect children from all backgrounds and demographics helped shape the initiative.

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“Bringing all agencies of Coventry together to address our young people’s mental health, substance use and other needs before they are in crisis is the primary goal,” said Coventry Public Schools Superintendent Craig Levis. “We need to keep the laser focus on children. We will train every adult in Coventry who has an impact on children’s lives to understand the impact that trauma has on children and to be proactive in their lives.”

Trainings will take place over the course of three years.

Funding for the initiative also includes $5 million over five years from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

“When those on the front lines – educators, support staff, health workers, first responders, etc., are trained to identify early health needs, kids have a better chance of getting the resources they need to help them avoid being in crisis,” Levis said.

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