The PACTS Grant

The Philadelphia Alliance for Child Trauma Services (PACTS)



The Philadelphia Alliance for Child Trauma Services (PACTS) is a child and adolescent ( ages 2 to 21) behavioral health system-wide trauma screening, education, prevention and intervention program, with a focus on the most vulnerable and underserved youth: young children ages 2 to 6; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth; Commercially Sexually Exploited Children(CSEC); and intentionally injured youth(IY). PACTS is under the leadership of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) and is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI).
Twenty (20) PACTS partner agencies provide city-wide coverage of Philadelphia, offering a continuum of trauma-informed services consisting of multiple entry points: 1) partnerships with other child serving systems( schools; child welfare; juvenile justice; physical health; victim’s advocate groups, etc.) referring trauma-impacted youth to our services; 2) universal screening for exposure to potentially traumatic events(PTEs) and traumatic stress symptoms; 3) delivery of evidence-based trauma-specific evidence based practices (EBPs), Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) ,Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and the Child and Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE) program.

Populations to be served: Eligible youth and their families include Philadelphia residents experiencing traumatic stress symptoms who are either covered by Medicaid or are temporarily uninsured. They are primarily from impoverished and high distressed communities with an approximate racial/ethnic distribution, of 59% African-American, 19% Hispanic, 12% white, 5% Asian, 5% other and less than 1% Native American. Most of these youth are likely to have experienced multiple traumatic events when identified.

Strategies/Interventions: The continuum of care will have multiple entry points: 1) screening for trauma exposure and traumatic stress symptoms being conducted at agencies serving youth; 2) referrals from such agencies to our PACTS Provider Network, where trauma-informed mental health assessment will be conducted to all children referred with an identified trauma; 3) early brief preventive intervention (secondary prevention) using the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) and the Child and Adult Relationship Enhancement(CARE) program; 4) treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety as well as other traumatic stress symptoms with Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).

Goals/Objectives: Our goal is to increase the number of traumatized youth who receive evidence-based practices to help them heal from trauma and develop coping skills to manage traumatic stress symptoms. The objectives are to: 1) increase screening for traumatic stress symptoms in child-serving programs such as pediatric emergency departments, primary care clinics, juvenile court and child welfare sites; 2) provide trauma-informed clinical assessments at child and adolescent behavioral health programs; 3) develop  a coordinated network of service providers for expeditious referral of children and families; 4) provide early posttraumatic intervention to prevent the development of PTSD using CFTSI; 5) provide CARE to caregivers of young child with behavior problems and 6) provide TF-CBT for children and adolescents who have established full or partial PTSD with co-morbid disorders and difficulties.

Number Served: We have increased the number of youth and families served each year since PACTS was created, through a SAMHSA(NCTSI) grant, in October 1st 2012. In 2017, we screened over 2,750 youth for trauma and over 900 youth received TF-CBT.

Affiliated Agencies: PACTS has 21 partner programs (17 agencies), as follows: 15 mental health outpatient programs, 2 Residential Treatment Facilities( RTFs), 1 Alternative Education Program, 1 homeless shelter for mothers and their children, 2 hospital-based violence intervention programs. All our partner agencies have long histories of serving youth and their families and all of which have undergone TF-CBT training funded by PACTS. Training in TF-CBT, CARE and CFTSI is provided by experts who are developers of these trauma-focused interventions and by approved national trainers. Performance assessment and evaluation is conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and focuses on data reporting, project implementation, achievement of project objectives, fidelity to service models, assessment of cultural competence, assessment of client satisfaction, and continuous quality improvement.