One in four youth will experience a traumatic event by their 16th birthday. CBITS is helping children overcome this trauma and focus on graduation.

It’s hard to focus on your future when there’s trauma in your past. Amanda knows this all too well. When she was a sixth grader, she was trying to cope with several deaths in her family. She blamed herself for what had happened and was unable to concentrate in school.

“I wish I could say Amanda’s story’s unique but it’s not,” says Karen Timberlake, Director of the UW Population Institute and Chair of United Way’s Healthy for Life Community Solutions Team. “The evidence is clear, 1 in 4 youth will experience a traumatic event by their 16th birthday.”

United Way is partnering with school districts and community agencies to identify and treat problems such as anger, anxiety, and depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), led by Journey Mental Health Center, provides screening, early intervention and treatment for sixth graders with anger, anxiety, and depression that stems from a stressful event or exposure to violence.

“Helping children overcome these obstacles early in their school career is key in ensuring their long-term academic success and graduation” says Timberlake.

In 2012, CBITS screened 2,500 6th graders in the Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, Oregon and Sun Prairie school districts which resulted in 64 students receiving treatment for trauma.

Over 10 weeks, CBITS students participate in individual and group sessions facilitated by a school counselor and a trained behavioral health therapist. They teach students how to manage the trauma’s effects on their life and, ultimately, get back on track in school.