Despite a decrease in homicides last year, violence in Chicago continues to attract national attention. Violent crimes are particularly prevalent in the city’s South Side neighborhoods,  

where 32 percent of teens have had a close friend or family member murdered, and nearly 1 in 5 had witnessed a shooting that resulted in death, according to a recent study.

In 2012, Chicago’s Bright Promises Foundation, which has been dedicated to funding innovative programs for at-risk youth for nearly 150 years, launched the Promoting Resiliency initiative. The initiative is designed to help childhood victims of trauma – violence, poverty, abuse, neglect – overcome the mental, behavioral, and emotional aftermath.

Bright Promises partnered with organizations across the city, including the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, where the need is particularly great. Currently, one third of Chicago's homicides and violent crimes occur within five miles of Comer Children's.

Through an $80,000 Promoting Resiliency grant, Bright Promises was able to support Healing Hurt People-Chicago (HHP-C), a hospital-based violence intervention program launched in August 2013 as a collaboration between Comer Children’s, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, and the Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

HHP-C helps youth victims of violence (and their families) recover both physically and emotionally through group therapy, mentoring, and psychoeducation. In addition to trauma-recovery support, HHP-C is also working to build capacity for trauma-informed practice at Comer Children’s and Stroger by educating hospital doctors and staff.

This mission made HHP-C an ideal partner for Bright Promises in their first effort to have an impact on pediatric medical settings.

“Bright Promises’ support enabled us to create an interdisciplinary team to deliver trauma-informed care training to medical providers and staff who take care of so many children and families affected by violence and trauma,” said Bradley Stolbach, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and clinical director of HHP-C. “This will help to ensure our patients experience an environment that promotes healing.”

HHP-C’s Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) Training Team comprises pediatricians, trauma social workers and psychologists, and former patients and family members. Thanks to Bright Promises, the TIC team has trained over 300 hospital staff and providers, including nurses, pediatricians, surgeons, child life specialists, physical and occupational therapists, chaplains, security officers, and social workers.

The team’s patient experts have had opportunities to teach medical students, residents, and nurses – including those who took care of them in the hospital – and even provided consultation to Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois while his office was developing the Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act.

The TIC program has also influenced planning of the University of Chicago Medicine’s Level 1 adult trauma center, which is scheduled to open on May 1.

“Bright Promises Foundation works to address the most critical issues impacting our children that are currently under-recognized and under-funded,” said Executive Director Iris Krieg. “We believe that through this partnership, UChicago Medicine has created lasting improvements to how children who have experienced trauma receive care, and that children will be better served now and in the future at Comer's Children and beyond.”

Stolbach and the team are committed to ensuring the TIC effort continues even after the Bright Promises grant period ends. To that end, they have created a committee of TIC Champions and produced educational materials that can be distributed to hospital employees.

“We look forward to helping more providers understand trauma’s impact on patients in the coming years and to playing a part in creating a trauma-informed UChicago Medicine as the Medical Center opens its new Level 1 adult trauma center,” Stolbach said.