The Mount Hope Family Center recently received a $1.6 million grant.

Courtesy of rochester.edu

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has awarded the Mt. Hope Family Center $1.6 million grant to assist their work in counseling children who have been victims of domestic violence.

According to the center, military families are particularly susceptible to these issues. In families with soldiers returning from war zones, the rate of domestic violence spikes. Self-reported rates of violence exceed 50 percent.

The national average shows that 25 percent of women experience domestic violence, a figure that includes military families in its count.

The families of veterans also faced an increased risk of domestic violence as the veteran deals with post-traumatic stress and depression.

The Project PEACE, the program the grant funds, aims to assist local institutions as well as provide interventions nationally for families troubled by domestic violence.

“If you look on a national level, the focus of psychological services for reserves and former military personnel is not on children and spouses,” Associate Professor of Clinical Social Psychology and excutive director of the center Sheree Toth explained.

This project, however, Promoting Emotional Adjustment in Children Exposed to Violence (PEACE), will focus on children in the families of soldiers in active duty as well as in the National Guard and the reserves.

The grant, which will be administered over the next four years, will potentially help up to 720 children in the Rochester area.

Project PEACE will work to ensure that administered treatments become more widely available.

With a spectrum of trauma and needs to address, the center has developed three treatment programs.

The Child-Parent Psychology program assists children under the age of six, focusing on the emotional connection between the child and their abusive parent.

The Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy is available for children ranging from three to seventeen.

Toth explained that the program will help the child “develop a narrative about the trauma they’ve been exposed to” in the hope of developing an effective way of coping.

The third therapeutic program, Alternatives for Families — A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — will work with whole families, providing guidance for destructive behavior and working to teach them the behavioral results for children that have abusive experiences.

In Rochester, a city experiencing the highest rate of crime in the state of New York and where over 50 percent of children live in poverty according to city reports, the Mt. Hope Family Center incorporates psychology with scientific research to most effectively treat children who have been exposed to domestic violence, a mission that this grant helps support.

Smith is a member of the class of 2014.



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