Ginny Sprang, PhD, professor of psychiatry and a co-founder of the UK Center on Trauma and Children (CTAC), has fought child maltreatment for almost two decades. In recognition of the work she has done as executive director of CTAC, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has appointed Sprang to its steering committee for the next two years.
Sprang was invited to the NCTSN’s steering committee because of her dedication to improving clinical services for children experiencing trauma. She said the appointment will only help strengthen CTAC’s role as a national leader in the field.
“Raising the standard of care is very much in line with the goals of the center and the UK College of Medicine,” Sprang said.
Researching and improving care for 18 years
Beginning in 1999, a series of research and clinical projects were funded at UK to understand child maltreatment and improve the care these victims receive. Eight years later, the UK Board of Trustees voted to establish a center that would encourage scientists and clinicians to conduct clinical research and provide evidence-based services to children and families who have been exposed to a wide range of traumatic events. Since then, the CTAC has been a leader in studying and treating children who have experienced trauma.
The NCTSN, established by Congress in 2000, includes 79 centers of excellence that work to implement policy, improve clinical care and develop products. Ten years ago, CTAC was awarded membership in the network.
Bringing the latest innovations to the Commonwealth
Two living laboratories in UK CTAC enable clinicians and researchers to test and adopt clinical strategies for reducing the harm associated with violence exposure. The assessment lab includes families referred through the court system or child protective services. The federally funded treatment lab brings the latest innovations in child trauma treatment to Kentucky and provides a venue for investigating the harms associated with specific types of traumatic experiences.
Assessing the impact of traumatic events on children isn’t the only kind of research currently being conducted at CTAC. The center also runs a Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) Practice Lab, aimed at improving the work environment for care providers. STS is caused by frequent indirect exposure to traumatic material and can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in trauma providers. The STS Practice Lab is a place where CTAC can develop and test new tools and interventions to address STS.
“Raising the standard of care for traumatized children mandates that the child-serving workforce be protected as well,” Sprang said.