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Evidenced-Based Practices Help Sussex County Children and Families

Release Date: March 08, 2010

Evidenced-Based Practices Help Sussex County Children and Families

Sussex County was awarded $50,000.00 in funding from the NJ Department of Children and Families to provide evidenced-based practices training for Sussex County child behavioral health providers.  In order for a program or practices to be defined as evidenced-based, it must have consistent scientific evidence showing improved outcomes for clients, participants or communities.  Evidence-based practices may include individual clinical interventions, population based interventions, or administrative and system-level practices or programs. 

The Evidenced-Based Practices Subcommittee, which was convened as a subcommittee of the Sussex County Youth Services Commission, identified the need for traditional clinical services and positive social outlets for youth as the top priorities.  Based on the existing documentation from Child Behavioral Health Strength and Needs Assessments, the MAYSI (Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument), the youth survey data, community based provider focus group, and a child services inventory, it was identified that Trauma Focused - Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) would best meet the needs of our community.  TF-CBT is an identified clinical need for our County and for the State of New Jersey.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), developed by Co-Director Esther Deblinger, PhD, in collaboration with Drs. Judith Cohen and Anthony Mannarino, is an empirically supported treatment model that has been evaluated and refined over the past 18 years to help children overcome trauma related to abuse, violence and grief. This treatment approach has been recognized by the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as a model program due to the extensive outcome data supporting its effectiveness. While TF-CBT was primarily developed for addressing the needs of children who have suffered sexual abuse, the model has been adapted for use with children who have suffered a variety of traumatic experiences, such as physical abuse, exposure to domestic violence and traumatic grief.  TF-CBT is a clinical program that meets the evidenced-based criteria, and is identified as meeting the criteria based on, Communities that Care, Developmental Research and Programs SAMHSA –

The goals of this treatment model for children who have suffered traumatic events include:

• Teaching children and their non-offending caregivers adaptive coping skills

• Assisting children to emotionally and cognitively process their traumatic experiences

• Reducing the emotional and behavioral reactions exhibited by children

• Facilitating children's adjustment to placement when needed

• Assisting non-offending caregivers in responding to their child's reactions as well as helping them cope with their own feelings related to the trauma(s)

• Working with caregivers and children in joint sessions to improve interaction, enhance communication and practice personal safety skills to help reduce the risk of future victimization

TF-CBT can effectively address a child's anxiety, depression and behavioral difficulties in 12-16 sessions, and the model can be used in both individual and group therapy formats. Treatment generally consists of parallel sessions with children and their non-offending caregiver(s), as well as joint caregiver-child sessions in the later stages of therapy.  Research has documented that this treatment model effectively helps children and adolescents (ages 3 to 18) overcome post traumatic stress disorder, depression and feelings of shame as well as other behavioral and emotional difficulties (Electronic, 2009).

The Evidenced-Based Practices Subcommittee is scheduled to meet in March, and will be conducting a formal monitoring of all the agencies that were trained.  Participating agencies included Center for Prevention and Counseling, Youth Advocacy Program, Project Self-Sufficiency and Center for Evaluation and Counseling.  Each agency sent   clinicians and a minimum of one clinical supervisor.  Agencies that were selected for the TF-CBT from the Cares Institute attended a comprehensive three day training course.   The Cares Institute has also begun clinical supervision for the identified clinicians, which will occur over the course of six months, along with a one day training course in the spring.   At the culmination of the training and supervision, there will be an increase of TF-CBT certified clinicians in our community.  The Oversight Committee will be assessing the effectiveness of the training, along with the impact that it has had on our community over the next two years.  The feedback from the clinicians that attended the training and have begun the clinical consultation has been positive and they are encouraged by what they have learned.  The Youth Services Commission is excited about an increase in services to the children and families of Sussex County.


Melissa Latronica
Sussex County Youth Services Coordinator

A program of the
135 Morris Turnpike, Newton, N.J. 07860
Office Hours: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Phone 973-948-6000 Fax 973-948-6664