Building the Buffering


Building the Buffering:

A Series on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing


Children who experience trauma over the course of their lives have reactions that can persist and affect their daily lives long after the traumatic event(s) have ended. Reactions to trauma can include intense and ongoing emotional upset, depressive symptoms or anxiety, behavioral changes, difficulties with self-regulation, problems relating to others or forming attachments, regression or loss of previously acquired skills, attention and academic difficulties. Older children may use drugs or alcohol, behave in risky ways, or engage in unhealthy sexual activity.


This series explores child trauma and resilience by examining brain science, caregiving relationships, and clinical support systems with a special focus on the unique difficulties faced by children in foster care. The live virtual series is being offered for legislators and their staff only.


Click here to learn more about Encompass: Community & Collaboration for Foster Families — a brand new foster parent support model led by MSPCC and The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.


Check back at the end of each month for a video recording of each session.


Part One: Brain Development 

Date: September 27th, 2021

Presenter: Heather Forkey, MD, Chief, Division of Child Protection, Clinical Director, Foster Children Evaluation Service, UMass Memorial Health Care

How can Disney’s blockbuster movie “Frozen”  help us understand the expanding evidence from molecular biology, genomics, immunology, neuroscience links the early experience of adversities with subsequent impacts on health, development, academic achievement, productivity and mental illness?   This session explores how some children may grow as dandelions while others grow like orchids — taking into consideration how trauma impacts the developing brain, how children can be impacted and protected, and the challenges of preventing and recognizing the effect of trauma on children. If you are a policy maker or a parent who cares for and advocates for children — this session is for you, because childhood experience is not destiny. 


Part Two: Supporting Caregiver & Relational Resilience

Date: October 18th, 2021

Presenters: Heather Forkey, MD, Chief, Division of Child Protection, Clinical Director, Foster Children Evaluation Service, UMass Memorial Health Care

Aditi Subramaniam LMHC, R-DMT, IECMH-E®: Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Partnership Manager, MSPCC

The session will build upon the first session and will focus on developing shared understanding on how trauma impacts parenting, both the neurobiology and the relational aspects of parenting AND will discuss models/tools of support for parents to help with healing and building resilience with their children. 


Part Three: Models of Support: Appropriate Use of Psychotropic Medication

Date: December 20, 2021

Presenter: Wynne Morgan, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Foster Children Evaluation Service, Umass Memorial Health Care, Consulting Psychiatrist. MA Department of Children and Families

Children who experience trauma, including DCF involved children, are at higher risk for a range of poor health outcomes including increased rates of mental illness. As is part of a comprehensive treatment plan, medication can be a safe and effective component of behavioral health care for some children. But, all medication comes with risk of side effects and many psychotropic medications can interfere with the routines of daily living. This session will discuss the important role of the psychiatrist in ensuring that medication is only used when the potential benefits are clear and in conjunction with careful and ongoing monitoring and assessment.


Part Four: Models of Support: Evidence Based Approaches

Date: February 15, 2022

Presenter: Jessica Griffin Psy.D. Executive Director, Child Trauma Training Center and Resilience Through Relationships Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School

This session contrasts the difference between evidence-informed and evidence-based treatments for childhood trauma. Dr. Jessica Griffin provides an overview of the key components of trauma-informed treatment and discusses various evidence-based treatment models available for children and families in Massachusetts, emphasizing both components of treatment and the modalities utilized to train providers in evidence-based practices. Challenges such as access issues and barriers to training and treatment are reviewed.


Part Five: Models of Support: The Role and Impact of Peer Professionals

Date: March 15, 2022


  • Jacquelyn Reinert, Psy.D. Assistant Director of Trauma Services, LUK, Inc., and Principal Investigator, Central Massachusetts Child Trauma Center, LUK, Inc.
  • Diane Lanni Lead Trauma Coach, UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center
  • Ashley Johnson, LICSW Program Manager of Trauma Treatment, Central Massachusetts Child Trauma Center, LUK, Inc., and Principal Investigator, Developing Resiliency & Well-being, LUK, Inc.

While caring for a child in placement is a rewarding and truly meaningful experience, foster parents are confronted by significant challenges as they navigate not only mental health and trauma-related behaviors, but also ongoing interactions with child welfare and other child-serving systems. Trauma-informed training for foster and kinship caregivers is a core component necessary for positive outcomes for both youth, caregivers, and the child welfare system in an intentional effort to build the buffer. This session will review several trauma-informed peer models, the successful implementation of the MSPCC Encompass trauma coach model and the power of connection as a catalyst for recruitment, training, and retention of resource and kinship caregivers.


Join our mailing listJoin Now