The Child Parent Institute (formerly California Parenting Institute) has received a $5,000 grant this year from the Rohnert Park Foundation to provide expanded on-site trauma counseling at Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District schools. The organization is a parent education and children’s mental health agency that has served families throughout Sonoma County since 1978.
“For a number of years we’ve been receiving funding from Cal OES, the Office of Emergency Services,” says Robin Bowen, Executive Director of the Child Parent Institute. “That funding provides intensive, therapeutic counseling for kids who’ve experienced trauma. The money is for very intensive, in-depth services for those kids because the state recognizes that this is the time to help the children heal and recover, otherwise it will be more expensive down the road.”
Now in its 40th year, the Child Parent Institute’s mission is “to end child abuse and strengthen the health of children, parents and families.” To achieve this goal, the organization provides child therapy, family resource assistance, parent education, facilitated supervised visitation, therapeutic and recreational creative arts programming and a non-public school (New Directions) that provides adolescent special education and mental health services. CPI also advocates for policies that support families and protect children.
At the time of this writing, Child Parent Institute has helped 6,379 children and families, provided 4,883 counseling hours, and mentored 254 parents, just this year.
“Our Child Abuse Treatment Program (CHAT) serves the population of Sonoma County children ages 0 to 18 years who have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect; witnessed family or community violence; or live in endangering environments, such as with parental substance abuse,” says Bowen. “Specifically once a child is identified we provide intensive individual therapy on a weekly basis. CHAT services are being provided on school campuses, currently primarily in Rohnert Park.”
Providing services at schools ensures that those children who need them most are able to access them, especially those whom would otherwise be unable to participate. The school district helps determine where the services are needed and once the Child Parent Institute has received the referral of a CHAT-eligible child, therapists employed by CPI are then deployed to those schools to work with the students on a regular basis. Their goal is to reduce the child’s trauma symptoms by 60 percent and related behavior problems by 60 percent.
Studies show that abused children identified and treated during childhood show much better outcomes than those untreated. CPI has many stories of children they have worked with over the years and how intervening with therapy has helped their overall social and emotional wellness and in turn has helped the broader community.
“Ten-year-old ‘Jake,’ was emotionally abused and neglected by his father,” says Bowen in relating one of the stories of the children CPI has worked with. “Through his therapist’s use of the evidence-based, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), this young child was able to decrease self-blame for the abuse he suffered. We are pleased to report that this young boy is doing much better now. He no longer suffers from panic attacks or stomach pain and is working on developing a new, healthy relationship with his father with the support of his therapist and his family.”
Besides the Rohnert Park Foundation awarding CPI the grant to continue and expand the important work they do in the community, the City of Rohnert Park has also acted as a partner to the organization in other ways in order to get local students the help they need.
“The City of Rohnert Park has really partnered with us, not just in terms of giving us this grant,” says Bowen. “They have also donated some office space for us to be able to use at the Senior Center. This allows us to be able to see the kids in between when school is not in session or after school.”