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An Ounce of Prevention... 

Editor:

Thank you for the high rates of trauma article ("Reaching for Resilience," Oct. 1). The program at McKinleyville Middle School is a wonderful effort, albeit intervention — helping children after they experience trauma — when their brains have suffered trauma integration in the psyche, becoming far more difficult to treat and alleviate.

 We must start early childhood trauma prevention and treatment programs. As an Early Childhood educator, I have run into walls trying to get services like play therapy, quality preschool enrollment or transportation to services for my students. While First 5 playgroups are fun, they are not easily accessible to working parents or homeless folks, and only offer service referrals (which often are unavailable). My program, the Street Relief Preschool, for homeless children, serves the youngest, most traumatized kids. Yet community resources allocated to help, such as the McKinney-Vento Act grant through the Humboldt County Office of Education, fail to offer required outreach and transportation, and only offer mandated services if the child qualifies for special education services, when they just place the child in their autism childcare center, whether they are autistic or not (in violation of federal law).

Changing Tides Family Services, also in receipt of state/federal funding for homeless preschoolers, are not doing required outreach, making it difficult for a parent without transportation to enroll their child if any services are available by the time the parent finds out about them. Our community can do better to intervene at the earliest levels to lessen trauma when the child first begins experiencing it, or preventing it altogether.

Without services, by the time they reach kindergarten, these kids are, on average, a full year behind their housed peers and trauma is the biggest reason. We either allocate funding now, or pay exponentially more later when trauma has led to higher rates of drop-out, domestic violence, incarceration and homelessness.

Hilary Mosher, McKinleyville

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