UCLA Pritzker Center partners with the Children’s Institute of Los Angeles for the 2023 Trauma-Informed Care Conference

By Christine Lina
September 26, 2023

Featured speakers include California Surgeon General, Dr. Diana Ramos, UCLA Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Eraka Bath, and keynote speaker, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

The Children’s Institute of Los Angeles hosted their annual 2023 Trauma-Informed Care Conference in partnership with the UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families. The conference featured a panel discussion with California Surgeon General, Dr. Diana Ramos, and UCLA Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Eraka Bath, moderated by LAist Senior Reporter, Mariana Dale, and a keynote from New York Times Best-Selling Author of The Body Keeps the Score and trauma research pioneer, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

The annual Trauma-Informed Care Conference brings together professionals working with children and families from the front lines, such as child welfare and mental health professionals, as well as school and juvenile legal system staff. Policymakers, program administrators and organizational leaders from public and private agencies play an equally critical role in conversations around improving trauma-informed care for system-involved families. This year’s theme focuses on Creating a Culture of Wellness & Prevention for Children, Families & Community.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships on a child’s health,” said California Surgeon General Diana Ramos, MD. “California is making significant investments to providing more support for communities and families so that all children have an opportunity to lead healthy, thriving lives.”

“The CII conference guided participants to consider the importance of using structural intersectional frameworks to address racism and concentrated poverty as drivers of inequitable health outcomes,” said UCLA Professor of Psychiatry, Eraka Bath, MD. “As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I am confident that strategic application of these frameworks to operationalize policies, procedures, practices, and programs to address trauma and advance child well-being is critical.”

“Childhood trauma is probably the largest single public health issue facing us as a nation.,” said keynote Bessel van der Kolk, MD, “Learning self-regulation through attuned interactions, play & awareness of self and others are at the core of any effective intervention in any system that deals with children & adolescents.”

“We know that healthy relationships built on consistency and trust can protect families and communities are primary buffers against toxic stress in our communities,” said Martine Singer, CII’s President and CEO, “CII is honored to host this year’s stellar keynote speakers who, like the extraordinary professionals that attend the conference, dedicate their lives to healing and health. CII is committed to equitable access to care and early education. Our teachers and clinicians partner with children and families to achieve educational success and emotional wellbeing, which are foundational to economic mobility and lifelong health.”

“The UCLA Pritzker Center is proud to partner with CII to host this year’s Trauma Informed Care Conference,” said Taylor Dudley, JD, UCLA Pritzker Center Executive Director, “As a bridge from our campus and into neighborhoods across Los Angeles, we team with UCLA researchers and community leaders to challenge and resolve systemic injustices facing children and families. This conference brings that mission to life, and we thank CII for having us take part in its efforts.”

The conference also featured a community panel with individuals who have lived-experience with the system and/or received services and are now able to provide wellness resources to and advocate on behalf of their own community. The Lived Experience panel, moderated by CII’s Vice President of Health Innovation and Training, Jesús Parra, LMFT, included UCLA Pritzker Center Student Researcher and third-year Sociology and African American studies double major with a Community Engagement and Social Change minor, Kahlila Williams, CII’s Community Health Worker for the Enhanced Care Management and Community Services Program, Clarissa Morales Hernandez, and CII’s Project Fatherhood program participant, Terry Hayward.

Breakout workshops were facilitated by experts from CII, UCLA Pritzker Center, the UCLA-UCSF ACEs Aware Family Resilience Network and the Trauma Research Foundation. UCLA Pritzker Center student researcher Kahlila Williams was invited to speak at the “Voices of Resilience: Empowering System Involved Youth through a Trauma-Informed Lens” Breakout Session alongside Evelyn Barycki and Chantel Palmer from the Children’s Institute, moderated by UCLA Pritzker Center Doctoral Researcher and Co-Director of Twinspire, Demontea Thompson.

After the conference, the UCLA Pritzker Center student team assisted Dr. Bessel van der Kolk during the book signing, where conference participants in person received a complimentary copy of The Body Keeps the Score with a personalized message from Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. The Body Keeps the Score is the inspiring story of how a group of therapists and scientists—together with their courageous and memorable patients—have struggled to integrate recent advances in brain science, attachment research, and body awareness into treatments that can tree trauma survivors from the tyranny of the past.

This event gathered over a hundred in-person attendees, and approximately 800 who attended virtually via Zoom. The UCLA Pritzker Center is proud to have played a role in this impactful event in partnership with the Children’s Institute of Los Angeles.