New Haven, Connecticut, had some of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. Agencies convened to improve the health of women, families, and their children and The Consortium for Substance Abusing Women and their Children was formed. A model adopted by the Consortium (part of Public Act 90-183) was the first comprehensive approach in the country to care for substance-using women and their children.
1993 - 1995
The Consortium became part of the Robert Wood Johnson-funded New Haven Fighting Back Initiative, a major effort to cut alcohol and drug use. St. Raphael's Hospital served as our fiduciary. The initiative received a phase I, phase II (1992-1997), and phase III (1998-2002) planning grant. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) initiated the Integrated Services System to establish a network of services. The Connecticut Legislature provided funding to connect these initiatives.
The Consortium obtained tax-exempt status and with the help of DMHAS leadership expanded to statewide.
An influential event, From the Heart, was held with legislators for women to speak out about the effects of trauma. The video, "Trauma: No More Secrets," was published. Our focus started to shift to broader issues in women's behavioral health and trauma.We were renamed The Connecticut Women's Consortium (CWC), and held The Women's Conference: Defining a Vision for Women's Behavioral Health.
Co-leadership on DMHAS's Trauma Initiative began and we started training on trauma and behavioral health to support the initiative. The Consortium became a resource on trauma and produced the Trauma Directory, Trauma Matters Newsletter, and a training catalog of about 10 workshops.
2004 - 2005
Two DMHAS initiatives gathered steam. The Trauma Initiative selected Western Connecticut Mental Health Network in Torrington to become a "Trauma Center of Excellence" and they received training in trauma-informed care. This effort was later renamed the Trauma and Gender (TAG) Agency Project. The Women's Services Practice Improvement Collaborative (WSPIC) started with women's specialty programs to promote best practices for women. They developed guidelines with consumer input for women's programs. The CWC hosted Ken Hardy and Stephanie Covington, two national presenters on trauma and began promoting "trauma-informed, gender-responsive"care.
The Healing Trauma Project was created to educated and teach skills about trauma to incarcerated women at York Correctional using the Healing Trauma curriculum by Stephanie Covington, PhD.
Trauma and WSPIC Initiatives combined leadership to become the TAG Initiative and now included: the TAG Guide Team, Trauma Quarterly Meeting, WSPIC Quarterly Meetings, and the TAG Agencies Project . A Trauma Day event was held at the capitol.
The training space was redesigned, and we provided 86 trainings to 3,370 attendees. There were several large events with presenters Jackson Katz, Charles Atkins, and Ken Hardy. The Healing Trauma Project started to include more women released from prison and at community-based agencies. A resource tool kit for TAG was developed. A similar TAG initiative called Criminal Justice TAG was now funded specifically for reentry agencies in the criminal justice community. We also held the Yale Leadership Program in Behavioral Health for Women leaders in the behavioral health community.
The CWC started to increase their presence statewide and nationally with large conferences such as the National Adult and Juvenile Female Offender Conference 2015 and Stephanie Covington Curriculum Conference 2017. The Healing Trauma Project temporarily expanded to men and was titled Exploring Trauma. The Yale Leadership Program Women in Behavioral Health continued and partnership on the Every Women Connecticut to improve birth outcomes began. New smaller events and projects included Women Walking New Haven & Girls Circle Project for Greater New Haven.
The 2016-2017 state budget crisis caused disruption and cancellation of many long-running programs throughout the state of CT, including the successful Healing Trauma & Exploring Trauma Projects. Healing Trauma was defunded at the program’s peak, having served over 1,700 women – both in prison and throughout CT’s communities. Yale Leadership and the Criminal Justice and Trauma and Gender Practice Improvement Collaborative were put on hiatus. The CWC worked on enhancing events, conferences, and collaborations during this time. The yearly Integrative Medicine Conference began providing holistic healing for both staff and clients of DMHAS funded-agencies.
With 4 new staff the CWC started to increase private training and held 5 large-scale events including the Integrative Medicine Conference, Opioid Conference, and Covington Conference. Training attendance alone had increased to 6,673 attendees. The Alternative Pain Management workshops, Women and Children TAG from Hope & Grace Foundation and a Community Film Series were all new as the CWC worked on rebuilding projects after the state budget crisis. The
The CWC increased many activities designed to enhance education and learning including expanding online courses, podcasts, live webinars, a community film series and private training designed for agencies. Both private training for agencies and online learning nearly doubled.
New projects included Women and Children's Trauma and Gender Project funded by the hope & grace fund, Auricular Acupuncture, Project Assert (DCF) and the TAG learning collaborative.
Large events included the
Spotlight on Sexual & Domestic Violence with Keynote Beverly Gooden who created the #whyIStayed,
Spotlight on Toxicity of Racism with Mara Gottlieb & Kenneth Hardy,
Opioid Use Disorders Conference with Keynotes William Moyers and Bertha Madras,
Spotlight on Veteran's Behavioral Health Care with Keynote William Travis Rodriguez and Amy B. Otzel
Holistic Healing Through Integrative Medicine Conference with keynote Dr. Romie Mushtaq.