Courts plan trauma conference

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A pair of events Thursday and Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road will educate parents and professionals about the effects of trauma in children and how to deal with it.

The session on Thursday evening is free and open to the public and will run from 6 to 8 p.m. Dr. Sheronda Farrow, a psychologist with the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, will talk about how caregivers can understand and respond to the effects of trauma in children.

“It’s for parents and other caregivers,” said Rachel Lewis, Comprehensive Services Act coordinator, who has helped organize Thursday’s event. Everyone from parents and grandparents to foster and adoptive parents and daycare providers can benefit.

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Lewis explained that trauma for children can range from abuse or neglect to experiencing a natural disaster, a death in the family, divorce, poverty or even frequent relocation.

“It can be a one-time event, or it can be a series of things that occur repeatedly,” she said.

Caregivers “don’t always know how to recognize it, what it might indicate and how to deal with it,” Lewis added.

The workshop will include information on “trauma-informed therapy,” and how trauma in childhood, especially early on, can affect brain development, Lewis said.

In addition, community partners such as the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, The Up Center, the Genieve Shelter and more will be available to answer questions, Lewis said.

Jim Gordon, director of the Fifth District Court Services Unit, said this is the third conference the unit has sponsored. The first, two years ago, featured a guest speaker who was in the foster care system because of abuse and neglect. The second explained the roles of different professionals and agencies who help children in need.

Friday’s event will be geared toward professionals who work in the system, including guardians ad litem, Voices for Kids volunteers, school personnel, probation officers, community services board staff and others.

It will feature three speakers — Dr. Scott Cone of the Harbor Point Behavioral Health Center; Ellen Williams of the Center for Child and Family Services; and Andrea Long of The Up Center.