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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: March 23, 2015


NEW CASTLE (March 23, 2015) - The emotional high point of the Wednesday, March 25, conference on trauma-informed care in Delaware will be a panel discussion featuring survivors of traumatic experiences on what influenced their ability to heal and the factors that hampered their recoveries. The Trauma Matters Networking Event, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), will be from 7:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday in the Education and Technology Center at Delaware Technical and Community College's Terry Campus in Dover.

About 200 staff members in the areas of addiction and mental health services, child and adult protection, juvenile and criminal justice, health care, primary and secondary education, and faith-based communities are expected to attend the conference.

DHSS received a five-year federal grant to incorporate a trauma-informed approach into the state's behavioral health care system. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, a 15-year landmark study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, found that adverse experiences, especially in childhood, can affect people throughout their lives. Those adverse experiences, sometimes referred to as childhood trauma, were found to negatively affect individuals' physical, behavioral and spiritual health as adults, as well as their ability to learn, their family and social relationships, and their exposure to risky behaviors. The conference will detail how trauma-informed approaches can support individuals impacted by trauma by building resilience and promoting recovery.

DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf will open the conference with an overview of trauma nationally and in Delaware, and why Delaware must embed a trauma-informed system of care.

"Delaware adults who were impacted by trauma, especially as children, live in our neighborhoods and are served by many of our public systems," Secretary Landgraf said. "Their challenges as adults are seen across the public-private-nonprofit spectrum - from our schools, places of worship and government offices, to emergency rooms, homeless and domestic violence shelters, courtrooms, prisons and, unfortunately, funeral homes. Too often we see that the longer the trauma is ignored, the more challenging and expensive the problem becomes for society, and for the individuals themselves."

The conference will provide opportunities to learn about Delaware agency efforts to develop trauma-informed systems in order to prevent trauma and to help survivors heal from traumatic experiences. In addition to the panel discussion with survivors, Marcy Witherspoon, a Philadelphia-based social work consultant and trainer, will present the keynote address on trauma's impact across the lifespan and ways to serve people more effectively through using a trauma-informed approach. The event will conclude with a discussion about how to expand trauma awareness and promote trauma-informed responses across the state.

For more information about this event, contact or

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.