The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) seeks to expand opportunities for Ohioans to receive trauma-informed interventions by enhancing efforts for practitioners, facilities, and agencies to become competent in their trauma-informed practices. One example of this is Project CARE.
Project CARE, which stands for Community Accessibility Responsiveness and Education, receives funding from the Office on Violence Against Women. They work in collaboration with other agencies, including Hamilton County Board of Developmental Disabilities (HCBDD), which provides in-kind services to the program. Other partners include Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, End Slavery through the Salvation Army, Mayerson Center for Safe and Healthy Children, and Miami University. Project CARE is for people with disabilities who have been impacted by violence or trauma. They provide services such as referrals, safety planning, coordinated intervention services, and provision of prevention programming, that are essential to the health and well-being of abuse survivors with disabilities.
The partnership with HCBDD provides referrals, cross-training, staff assistance, and education for Project CARE. According to Matt BavInka, Regional Liaison for DODD, “Hamilton County has done an excellent job of balancing individual rights and risks during the COVID-19 pandemic” and have taken “some creative approaches to reflect the board’s commitment to person-centered planning, while still keeping staff and service-recipients safe.” This creativity is evident in HCBDD’s partnerships. Project CARE is also in collaboration with LifePoint Solutions, Women Helping Women, and the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati.
Until recently, much of trauma-informed care at Project CARE has been done in-person through counseling, building relationships, group activities, and skill building. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, services like these have had to be adjusted and key aspects of the program have been moved online.
Holly Watson, Project CARE coordinator, and Amie, an advocate for Project CARE, both miss in-person gatherings, but pointed out the benefits of going virtual. They said that the changes since COVID-19 have eliminated transportation issues that prevented regular attendance and allowed for more frequent check-ins and communication between participants.
As an advocate, Amie gets a small stipend to provide training and support to other people going through Project CARE. Amie has a disability and was a victim of trauma. She shared, “As a recovering drug addict I’ve been able to run a class for people who suffer from addiction. I really love that Project CARE gives us individual responsibilities. I’ve gotten a lot of leadership qualities from working here."
HBDD Behavior Support Manager Kimi Remenyi is proud of the work Project Care has been doing and said, “Project Care has been transformative for our community. It exemplifies the power of acceptance, strength, and connection to others. Holly and the Project Care advocates work hard to provide a safe space for those who most need it and increase awareness by being present throughout the community. Greater Cincinnati is a better place because of Project Care and those of us lucky enough to be a part of it are better people as a result."