- Associated Press - Monday, November 23, 2015

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - In what could set an example for foster care across Maryland, foster parents in Washington County are set to be the first in the state trained to help children traumatized by psychological, sexual and physical abuse.

The county is preparing to implement Trauma Systems Therapy, which is a comprehensive mental health treatment to help children and teenagers who have been exposed to some form of life-threatening and emotional trauma, The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports (https://bit.ly/1N91i5c).

Starting next month, Department of Social Services staff will be trained to implement the program to their foster parents. Foster parents will then begin to be trained in February.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Washington County children,” said David A. Engle, the director of the Washington County Department of Social Services.

If state finds the program to be successful, it could be rolled out into other counties in the state, Engle said.

There are 74 licensed foster parents in Washington County and 184 children in foster care in the county. Many of these children have experienced or witnessed psychological, sexual and physical abuse and neglect, said Mike Piercy, the department’s assistant director for adult, child and family services.

“(They can) have difficulty coping,” Piercy said. “So they act out and end up in psychiatric hospitals. Medicine doesn’t always provide the coping skills.”

The therapy program is designed to help children and teenagers improve their well-being in order to allow them to live stable lives.

The Bethesda nonprofit group, Child Trends will evaluate how the Trauma Systems Therapy is working in Washington County, once it is fully implemented.

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Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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