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Advocates rally around bipartisan RISE from Trauma Act that includes $600 million annually for community coalitions

 

As Congress heads toward the August recess, President Biden’s major domestic priorities are included in the framework announced on July 14 along with Democratic congressional leaders. Biden and party leaders agreed on a top-level number of $3.5 trillion for major programs including an extension of the child tax credit, universal pre-K, two years of free community college, child care support, climate provisions, expansion of the Affordable Care Act, and more. The path to enactment is far from clear.

The advocacy community promoting trauma-informed approaches in federal legislation sees a ripe opportunity for inclusion of trauma-related provisions in the $3.5 trillion package. State and national organizations have joined forces to support the creation of a $600 million annual grant program for community coalitions called for in the “RISE from Trauma Act,” S. 2086 (Summary attached). RISE stands for Resilience Investment, Support and Expansion. The bill is sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois (both Democrats) and Republicans Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

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Dan Press (l) & Jesse Kohler (r)

Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP)

There is broad support for this priority in the community as expressed by Jesse Kohler, executive director of the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP):

"This is an exciting opportunity to advocate for historic investments directly in communities to continue and grow their trauma-informed work. We know that healing takes place in community and in the context of close relationships, and your advocacy today will help move the RISE from Trauma Act closer to the finish line!"

Daniel Press, CTIPP general counsel and chair of the policy committee, commented on the long process of educating Congress and building support for shared priorities among advocates:

"Five years ago, there was virtually no discussion of ACEs in the halls of Congress. CTIPP is pleased that today there are a growing number of bills being introduced to incorporate trauma-informed approaches into Federal programs. While CTIPP welcomes the introduction of those bills, it is particularly excited by the bi-partisan RISE from Trauma Act., introduced by key Senate leaders.

CTIPP's highest priority is promoting community cross-sector trauma-informed coalitions, since the task of making America trauma-informed must begin at the local level. One provision of the Rise from Trauma Act would authorize $600 million a year for grants to such coalitions, which would represent the most significant step by Congress towards promoting local trauma-informed initiatives. CTIPP is deeply appreciative of Senators Durbin, Capito, Duckworth, and Murkowski for introducing the bill.”

There are many steps along the way before the outcome of the $3.5 trillion package is known, complicated by the interruption of the long August recess beginning first in the House July 30 and a week later in the Senate. First, a budget resolution must pass the House and Senate followed by the work of multiple committees to develop specific legislative language that will eventually be combined into a comprehensive bill. Advocates will be focused on the Senate HELP (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions) Committee that has jurisdiction over the RISE Act with its provision to support community trauma coalitions.

CTIPP has issued a call to action to obtain grassroots support for the RISE Act, encouraging advocates to request their senators become co-sponsors of the bill (the companion House bill has not yet been introduced). CTIPP is also encouraging communities to support the inclusion of the trauma community coalition grant program in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill (the reconciliation process bypasses the filibuster rule and requires a simple majority, not 60 votes.) Whether advocates are asking for co-sponsorship of the RISE Act or inclusion of the $600 million grant program in reconciliation, CTIPP emphasizes the importance of state, local, and regional trauma coalitions to educate their U.S. senators about their accomplishments. The upcoming August recess is a window for advocates to reach out to their senators to request their co-sponsorship of the RISE Act and in general raise awareness of the rapidly-growing trauma, PACEs, and resilience movement.

712260B3-B11C-4E90-9BBB-E2FB92B3FB8B_1_105_cAlive and Well Communities

One of the more active statewide coalitions is Alive and Well Communities that includes the urban centers of St. Louis and Kansas City as well as other communities in a three-state area— Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. Alive and Well Communities President Jennifer Brinkmann says the RISE Act embodies provisions that have been developed over the last couple of years, especially the funding of local community coalitions. She says the bill provides funding for organizations that are as close to local communities as possible to develop their own solutions and priorities.

The workforce provisions in the bill are also critical, according to Brinkmann. “The bill emphasizes building a trauma-informed workforce in settings from healthcare to schools and recognizes the power of the roles played by peer-based workers—those individuals in the community who can connect people with resources and help them understand their option," she says. The combination of funding local coalitions and workforce development promotes “healing, well-being and equity” in communities, she continues.

Alive and Well Communities seek to impact federal legislation in part through its membership in The Building Community Resilience Collaborative (BCR) at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Alive and Well is activating its volunteers (known as ambassadors) and stakeholders that are leading efforts in communities across the state to generate support in the U.S. Senate. Trauma-focused advocacy is central to the work of BCR and CTIPP but many other national organizations are ramping their advocacy in support of the RISE Act. Organizations such as American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, Futures without Violence and many others are supporting the RISE Act, as is PACEs Connection.

In addition to Alive and Well, other statewide trauma coalitions are supporting the RISE Act including the Alaska Children’s Trust, the California Campaign to Counter Childhood Adversity (4CA), Creating Resilience (Oklahoma), Iowa ACEs 360, Office of Resilience (New Jersey), New York State Trauma-Informed Coalition, Pennsylvania Office of Advocacy and Reform, Trauma Informed Oregon, Trauma Informed Utah, and Virginia’s Trauma Informed Community Networks.

The landscape for legislation is complex with a narrow Democrat majority in the House, a 50-50 split in the Senate (Vice President Harris would cast the tie-breaking vote), and other unresolved, major issues in play such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill (roads, bridges, rail, broadband, etc.). It was announced by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that debate on the infrastructure bill would begin on July 21 but a delay is likely because of controversies related to how to fund the bill. The intertwining fates of both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion domestic priority reconciliation bill will play out into the Fall; at least it seems so now.

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