A Sarasota foundation has earmarked a $1 million grant to fund a partnership between Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the All Star Children’s Foundation to develop a program aimed at treating abused children.

The four-year grant to All Star, from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, will fund a director of pediatric psychological trauma and intervention at Johns Hopkins, train trauma-certified licensed therapists at All Star’s Sarasota campus, and support development, implementation and evaluation of therapeutic interventions for abused children. The program is expected to become the gold standard in healing childhood trauma and developing children’s skills necessary to build resiliency.

Graci McGillicuddy, the co-founder and president of All Star, says that the importance of interventions cannot be underestimated.

“Adverse childhood experiences are a major public health threat,” she said. “According to latest brain research, untreated early childhood trauma can have a lifetime impact. The good news is that early treatment gives traumatized children a chance to grow up into well-adjusted, high-functioning adults.”

Ideally, this treatment would be provided at a comprehensive center. That center would integrate trauma-sensitive principles (safety, trust, choice, empowerment and collaboration) throughout its physical environment, treatment programs and staff interactions.

That ideal is not a distant dream. Creating such a center is All Star’s goal.

All Star is building a “Campus of Caring,” which will include a center for trauma-focused clinical services. The facility will provide abused children, ages 0-18, with a nurturing, family-style home environment and comprehensive, trauma-sensitive treatment. Siblings will be kept together and parents and caregivers will also be offered a range of innovative services informed by the latest findings in neural research. The new campus will also be home to All Star’s community outreach program, which will serve children in the region’s child welfare system and their families on an outpatient basis. The campus is set for completion in late summer of 2018.

According to McGillicuddy, All Star will not only employ the latest research, it will help take that research forward.

“We’ll be giving traumatized children the help they need,” McGillicuddy said. “But we’ll also be producing research on the most effective care for these children, while training the next generation of clinicians.” She adds that this program will differentiate All Star from any other foster care treatment program in the state of Florida.

The Barancik Foundation’s investment brings world-class talent from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to Sarasota County to care for children in the community and begin to create a new medical model for treating trauma. McGillicuddy said a director of pediatric psychological trauma and intervention at the Mind Body Branch of the Institute of Brain Protective Services at Johns Hopkins will work with the All Star team. This combined effort will train trauma-certified licensed therapists and develop and evaluate trauma-based therapeutic interventions for abused children. These interventions will be available both on All Star’s Sarasota County campus and through All Star’s regional outreach program.

“This vital grant will allow our team to work in collaboration with the experts and researchers at Johns Hopkins,” McGillicuddy said. “We’ll join forces to design a program to heal childhood trauma employing the latest research in brain science and neuroplasticity.”

George Jallo, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Institute for Brain Protection Sciences and clinical practice director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, said that the organization is “proud of our relationships with the All Star Children’s Foundation and the Barancik Foundation and the work we will do together for traumatized children.”

Teri A Hansen, Barancik Foundation’s president and CEO, added, “This program will set the gold standard in healing childhood trauma and developing children’s resiliency. We’ll be able to treat children and teens who would not have been helped otherwise. And that’s what really matters.”

The Barancik Foundation is a private, family foundation that creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment, and medical research/resources.