Cass County educators, service providers learn how to help communities affected by trauma





Contact: Ryan Cheevers / 269.932.3546


Cass County educators, service providers learn how to help communities affected by trauma

Great Start Collaborative of Cass County, a collective impact organization of United Way of Southwest Michigan, organized the event.

An estimated audience of more than 400 people attended a free training on how to create trauma-informed systems and services in Cass County at Dowagiac Middle School (57072 Riverside Drive) on Thursday, August 16, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The event, “Trauma-Informed Communities: Building Hope and Resiliency,” was led by the Children’s Trauma Assessment Center at Western Michigan University and Dr. Jim Henry, its co-founder and project director. Rachel Wade, Vice President of Impact & Development at United Way of Southwest Michigan, also spoke at the event.

The goals of the event were to:

  • Raise community awareness and train providers and educators
  • Create collaboration and partnership across diverse systems
  • Develop shared vision, goals and results
  • Identify and advocate for adoption of trauma-informed, evidence-based practices

Since its founding in 2000, the Children’s Trauma Assessment Center has provided comprehensive neurodevelopmental trauma assessments for more than 3,300 children who have experienced trauma or adverse childhood experiences. It serves children ages three months to 17 years old. Over 90 percent of the children who have received assessment services are in or have been in foster care. Their traumatic exposure may include neglect, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, prenatal exposure to alcohol and/or drugs, exposure to domestic violence or community violence, and removal from biological family and/or multiple moves within the foster care system.

Facilitator Dr. Henry has trained more than 50,000 professionals, caregivers, and community members on child maltreatment and trauma-informed practices. He has been a professor in WMU's School of Social Work for 15 years, with a focus on developing and providing trauma-informed instruction in the social work curriculum.

Henry has served on two national committees of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network that developed trauma-informed curricula for child welfare workers and resource parents. He is a co-author of a book, "Seeking Justice," which explores best models of system intervention in child sexual abuse. He recently has developed a secondary trauma training focusing on understanding the impact of secondary trauma, grief and building resiliency.


The Great Start Collaborative of Cass County is a partnership of community leaders, business owners, charitable and faith-based organizations, health and human service agencies, educators, and parents. Together, these groups work to provide a network of resources that help families obtain services that will allow their children to succeed in every facet of their lives. The Collaborative offers families a one-stop resource, where all of Cass County’s programs and services have been researched and can be matched to family needs.


United Way of Southwest Michigan fights for the Health, Education and Financial Stability of every person in every community. We have the influence and relationships to make sustainable change a reality. By harnessing resources from corporate, nonprofit and public partners, we provide immediate assistance to our most vulnerable populations while addressing the root causes of our community's longstanding challenges and changing lives for the better. To join the fight—through giving, advocacy and volunteering—visit


Ryan CheeversComment