Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Mental Health Services and Policy Program

Past Projects

 Illinois Council on Youth’s Trauma Informed Youth Services Initiative

PI: Tracy Fehrenbach, PhD

With funding from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Illinois Collaboration on Youth (previously Youth Network Council) established a Trauma Informed Youth Services Initiative in 2009. The overarching goal of the initiative was to incorporate trauma-informed practices and policies into community-based youth serving agencies in Illinois to improve outcomes for young people who are experiencing traumatic stress. MHSPP faculty and staff directed the design, oversight and implementation of the outcome evaluation for this initiative, collected and analyzed data and offered suggestions for program improvement. The purpose of the evaluation was to assess the impact of implementing trauma-informed services with underserved youth in urban, suburban, and rural settings in Illinois by focusing on a wide range of indicators including youth’s behavioral and mental health needs and strengths, trauma-related symptoms and risk behaviors including delinquent behaviors that lead to legal sanctions.

 Mental Health Juvenile Justice Initiative

PI: Tracy Fehrenbach, PhD

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Mental Health funds and oversees the state-wide Mental Health Juvenile Justice (MHJJ) Initiative. The goals of MHJJ are to (1) identify youth in the juvenile justice system who have trauma-related or other mental health problems, (2) assess youth and develop a treatment plan, (3) help youth connect with community-based providers that can address their needs and (4) advocate for and help these youth and their families navigate the juvenile court system. Faculty and staff at MHSPP have evaluated the MHJJ program from 2000- 2017 and were able to demonstrate that mentally ill youth can be identified in the juvenile justice system and that, when treated in the community, their clinical condition improves, their school attendance increases and their re-arrest rate declines.

 One Hope United’s Healing Path Program

PI: Tracy Fehrenbach, PhD

From October 2012 through September 2016, MHSPP evaluated the effectiveness of The Healing Path: A Trauma Treatment Program for Youth and Caregivers Impacted by Trauma designed and carried out by One Hope United. With funding from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, The Healing Path assists children and families who are impacted by trauma in Lake County, Illinois. The Healing Path utilizes a trauma-focused treatment model, Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency (ARC), to provide treatment to children aged 4 – 18 and their caregivers.  The program also offers a trauma-informed parenting group as well as community training for local professionals in the area of trauma.

 Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition

PI: Cassandra Kisiel, PhD

Dr. Kisiel serves as the clinical director of the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition, whose members represent over 50 public and private organizations in Illinois. The goal of this coalition is to take a public health approach to the evolving understanding of the nature and impact of childhood trauma and to expedite the integration of this wisdom into public awareness and the array of systems that serve children and families in Illinois. Current projects include research on a possible developmental trauma diagnosis for DSM-V and training various groups on brain development and child trauma.

 MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change

PI: Gene Griffin, JD, PhD

Illinois participates in the MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change, juvenile justice programs. As part of the workforce development group, Dr. Griffin and others from Illinois helped to develop a curriculum for juvenile justice line staff. The curriculum focuses on an understanding of adolescent development, mental health and trauma issues. These concepts are then applied to working with youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system. Dr. Griffin is involved in training juvenile justice staff in Illinois and in training trainers on this curriculum in other states.

 Chicago Public Schools

PI: Gene Griffin, JD, PhD

MHSPP worked with Chicago Public Schools as they prepared to meet federal requirements for Response to Interventions, a paradigm for diagnosing attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities. Initiatives included the development of a three-tiered approach to dealing with behavioral health issues, including trauma, as part of a general education program. MHSPP, along with experts from Children’s Memorial Hospital, consulted on evidence-based assessment and intervention programs.

 CHIPRA Quality Demonstration Project

PI: Dana Weiner, PhD

CHIPRA is a federally funded project designed to improve the quality of medical homes for youth across the state. CHIPRA uses the Illinois Statewide Provider Database to obtain supplemental community-based service referral information, and this project funds two SPD staff who provide training to pediatric practices as well as data collection and maintenance for referral information relevant for these practices.

 Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Screening & Assessment Project

PI: Dana Weiner, PhD

The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission provides support for the implementation of assessment and screening strategies in Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and aftercare programs. The commission funds both the development and training in the use of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths-based Youth Development Plan, as well as IT support for the development of an online case management system and the extraction and analysis of data for administrative decision making.

 Permanency Innovations Initiative

PI: Dana Weiner, PhD

The Permanency Innovations Initiative is a federally-funded, multi-state program to evaluate the effectiveness of evidence-based interventions for reducing long-term foster care among youth at risk for long stays in the child welfare system.

  • The Illinois Project is a randomized controlled trial of Trauma Affect Regulation Guide for Education and Training, a psychoeducational model that trains foster parents, biological parents and youth in strategies for regulating affect and behavior.
  • Dr. Weiner serves as the evaluation liaison on the project, providing consultation and oversight to the federal evaluators (Westat) and local implementation team.