The Appropriations Committee of U.S. House of Representatives has approved the allocation of $1 million in Community Project funding to StrengthUnited, a chartered center of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education, California State University, Northridge, to provide critically needed mental health and educational support to children in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The request for the funding came from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who represents California’s 30th District, which includes the university. Congressmembers had an opportunity this year to request funding for urgent projects in their districts. The approved projects are expected to be included in the budget that will go to President Biden for signature.
“We are incredibly grateful to Congressman Sherman for his recognition of the critical needs of children who have experienced educational learning loss, decreased socialization and greater exposure to child maltreatment and family violence during the pandemic,” said Kim Goldberg Roth, executive director of StrengthUnited. “Although necessary, ‘safer at home’ orders have unintentionally created and exacerbated conditions known to cause child maltreatment. The Community Project funding will allow StrenthUnited to help the increased numbers of children who are at risk of lifelong learning loss and negative mental health challenges, potentially impacting an entire generation’s ability to thrive and succeed.”
Congressman Sherman said it is important to address the pandemic’s impact on children.
“The funding would be used to address the long-term mental health needs of children in our community arising during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery,” Sherman said. “I look forward to the Senate’s hopeful support of my request. There has been a tragic surge in the number of children needing additional assistance.”
Officials with StrengthUnited said the organization has seen a 42 percent increase in calls to its 24-hour crisis hotline since the beginning of the pandemic. They anticipate a continuing surge of child abuse reports as children return to school and other activities where they can catch the attention of teachers and other adults who report suspected abuse.
“As a chartered agency of CSUN, we are incredibly fortunate to bring the expertise of campus faculty and centers to holistically address the needs of children and those who care for them,” said Goldberg-Roth. Campus partners include the Teaching, Learning, & Counseling Consortium and SIMPACT, who will provide Educational Therapy, Counseling and virtual training to increase students’ capacity to treat traumatized children.
StrengthUnited provides 24/7 crisis response for all who have experienced child maltreatment, family violence, sexual assault or other crime-related trauma. Using a unique multidisciplinary approach, the organization privileges the needs of clients, reduces barriers to services and, reduces system-induced trauma by co-locating partner agencies, including the Center for Assault Treatment Services, Los Angeles City Attorney, Los Angeles Police Department Major Assault Crimes Detectives, and Neighborhood Civil Legal Services under one roof. In addition to intervention services, StrengthUnited addresses the causes of violence at their root, through community wide prevention and outreach, and training the next generation of professionals.
StrengthUnited has served the communities in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys since 1986. It is a comprehensive, social service, mental health and educational organization, serving individuals of all ages, cultures, ethnicities and abilities who have experienced a violent crime and trauma, with a focus on child maltreatment, domestic violence and sexual violence.