Think Big for Kids Grantee Sharing New Way of Thinking

Originally printed in our 2019 Annual Report.
“Children with significant trauma don’t expect better from people,” says Rachel Neukirch, Chief Program Officer for FamilyForward. “We’re working to change that, while better understanding the other personality characteristics inherent in children born into abuse and chaos.” Neukirch leads programming for FamilyForward, including the Developmental Trauma Center, which was supported with a $100,000 YouthBridge Think Big for Kids grant in 2019.

The Developmental Trauma Center, which refers to the services provided more so than a physical location, says Neukirch, is realizing improvements in relational health, or the interpersonal interactions children have with others. “We’re achieving great day-to-day results with the interventions and tools we’re providing,” she says. Neukirch explains that the agency’s overarching philosophy is derived from the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) – developed by Dr. Bruce Perry and based on the clinical correlation between a child’s early history and their current functioning. “Much of the behaviors we’re seeing in our clients are a function of where they’ve come from. If you understand that, you’re better able to address their difficulties.”

FamilyForward is collaborating with Dr. Perry and the Neurosequential Network on research projects and sharing nationwide, says Neukirch, adding that the YouthBridge grant has helped to elevate its capabilities. “We’ve been able to significantly expand service delivery to about 350 advanced levels of training to staff and add services.”

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Pictured: Family Forward therapists may use child-centered play therapy for children experiencing social, emotional and relational disorders. (Photo: FamilyForward)