TRAVERSE CITY — Two decades ago, Lisa Lederer and her husband came to a meeting at Child and Family Services and heard the story of children who show up at the agency’s door with a brown bag stuffed with everything they owned.
They were so moved, they adopted two brothers, ages four and five, who already had been in three foster care homes. The older boy was so severely neglected, he was nearly impossible to understand, she said.
"Nobody talked to him early on, so he didn't learn how to talk, how to form his words," Lederer said.
The help Lederer and her sons received from the agency's therapists motivated her to "give back" and return to college for a master’s degree in social work.
Now she serves as the behavioral health supervisor for Child and Family Services, which its officials said made great strides in their treatment approach, thanks, in part, to an evidence-based program for children suffering from trauma.
“There’s been a lot of research published about brain chemistry and how trauma affects children and how it affects their brains,” Lederer said. “Those articles have been published and new practices developed. That’s what we’re on getting board with.”
Child and Family Services was chosen as a training site for Michigan State University social work master's students. Beginning in September, interns will work with the agency's two therapists in Traverse City and Harbor Springs who are nearing certification in evidenced-based trauma treatment.
Lederer said nearly all of the 300 children served annually by the agency’s foster care program each year are traumatized in some way. The agency's revenues fall short of what they need, and Child and Family Services is making a fundraising appeal this week with its "brown bag" campaign.