The city is seeking more than two dozen people to join the Trauma Informed Care Task Force, a group that will develop policies to ensure the government is helping citizens deal with the trauma that comes from experiencing violence, poverty and other painful life experiences.
The group is the result of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, a measure sponsored by City Councilman Zeke Cohen (1st District) to target the root causes of violence and provide initiatives that help people who have experienced trauma heal.
At a press conference Wednesday morning with Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Cohen cited data showing 56 percent of children in Baltimore experience at least one traumatic experience, such as poverty, divorce, living with someone battling substance abuse or being a victim or witness to violence, among others.
Cohen said it is a public health issue that has been around longer than the coronavirus, and one that has long-lasting effects such as addiction or being the perpetrator or victim of violent crime.
“So we know that in this moment for the City of Baltimore, it is absolutely critical that we full-on address this issue of trauma,” he said. “And we also know that government alone can’t do it, it’s got to be a community-based effort.”
The task force hopes to bring together members of city agencies, medical professionals, students, teachers, parents and other community members to assess how different departments in city government handle trauma and recommend improvements.
There are currently 28 vacancies on the 36-person group, with the remaining eight made up of government officials. The mayor and city council will forward appointments to the council’s Executive Appointments Committee. The deadline to apply is April 10.
At the press conference, Cohen highlighted the work Baltimore Trauma Response Team. Led by Dr. Andre Humphrey, the group responds to crime scenes to help victims or witnesses of violence cope with what they have experienced.
The councilman noted how the team was recently dispatched to provide aid at the scene of a shooting in Rosedale, located in Baltimore County, that left one 13-year-old dead and five other young people wounded.
He said his heart hurt when he read a quote from Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins, who represents the area where the shopping center is located. She told The Sun: “You wake up and hear about this in the city, but never in the county. It’s tragic, it’s sad. Anytime we have another life lost in Baltimore County is tragic.”
“Anytime we have a life lost anywhere is tragic, whether its Baltimore City or Baltimore County,” Cohen rebutted, later adding that, much like the opioid crisis, trauma is not strictly an urban problem.
He noted that State Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-41st District) has introduced legislation to create a commission studying how to coordinate trauma-responsive care on a statewide level. The bill has yet to advance out of the Finance Committee.
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