Lt. Governor Stratton, making Illinois more trauma-informed
Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, joined by law and policymakers, social workers, and thought leaders, recently launched the Illinois Healing-Centered Task Force (IHCTF) at Governors State University (GovState).
Created by Senate Bill 646, the IHCTF will work to make Illinois a more trauma-informed and healing-centered state by addressing root causes and treatment of trauma, often tied to gun violence but also defined to include limited access to food, housing and heath care. Stratton also said trauma is disinvestment in communities; and in many instances trauma is fueled by deeply rooted racism.
“I am excited to be here today, not just as your Lt. Governor, but as someone who has experienced traumatic events in my life, and someone who has experienced the power of healing, not just individually, but collectively. It is my life’s work in this role to help communities all around our state to heal as well,” said Stratton.
The GovState community has been on the forefront of trauma-informed work, underscoring President Cheryl Green’s commitment.
“At GovState we know that healing starts by coming together. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and community partnerships we can build an Illinois where all people are seen, heard, and cared for. The work of this task force gives me hope for the future,” said Dr. Cheryl Green, GovState President. “When we lift each other up, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. Now is time to get to work. We have a state to heal.”
Decades ago, not everyone realized the connection between unhealed traumas, in children and adults, patterns of behavior, and incarceration, said Dr. Colleen Cicchetti, Executive Director at the Center for Childhood Resilience, at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“Nobody was understanding that the same kids from the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and from the hospitals, had one underlying common denominator; they had experienced trauma and didn’t get the help they needed,” said Cicchetti.
GovState alumni, Jerry Davis-El, executive director of GRO Community, an organization dedicated to helping men and boys struggling with mental health issues and trauma, joined Stratton and Green for the press conference and shared how GovState helped him resolve his trauma.
“My trauma is connected to being D3579; being a person impacted by incarceration,” said Davis-El. “Coming to GovState in August 2011 not knowing who I was —I had to write my own narrative and get rid of the stigmas and heal my space. So, this as an honor. GovState invested in me, and I found my purpose and my passion. And I stand here today ready for the fight.”
Activist Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City, brought a similar message to GovState during a keynote for the 2024 MLK Day event.
“The whole city has PTSD,’’ he told the audience in reference to gun violence.
At the press conference, organizers said the thirty-one-member task force, more than 20 years in the making, has a mission to recognize the impact of trauma and move the state of Illinois towards healing. Ultimately, leaders want to inform legislators on applying trauma-informed principles to the policymaking process.