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IFR’s SPARK brings hope and healing to trauma-exposed families

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There’s a new SPARK at IFR that is lighting up the lives of foster care children and families at San Francisco’s Sunnydale Housing development. The Strong Parents and Resilient Kids (SPARK) program joined IFR’s Early Intervention team in July 2015. Born out of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s (DPH) goal to introduce evidence-based mental health treatment for trauma-exposed children, SPARK integrates child parent psychotherapy interventions. SPARK is designed specifically for families and children (o to 5 years old) who live in the SHP, and foster care children referred by the DPH.

While IFR has worked with children and families in school and group settings for years, SPARK is our first program with an on-site public housing presence. Being available to Sunnydale residents not only improves accessibility and enhancement of mental health services, but it also increases community engagement in understanding the effects of trauma on children and families. Educating communities is central to breaking the cycle of trauma.

Trauma comes in different shapes and sizes, and can have different effects on members of the same family. According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, one out of every four children attending school has been exposed to a traumatic event. Trauma can result from physical harm, illnesses, sexual abuse, community violence, witnessing or experiencing domestic violence, and immigration trauma, among others. All too often, trauma can adversely impact school performance, impair learning, and cause physical and emotional distress.  

Not surprisingly, trauma can also erode child-parent relationships and weaken families.  To address this,

SPARK works to improve child-parent relationships for infants, toddlers and their families. By providing support and guidance during the recovery process of recovery, SPARK staff helps families healing and reconnecting. Over time, trauma-exposed children and families become stronger and resilient. As family connections are strengthened, children and families progress in multiple ways.

In addition to mental health services, SPARK also provides case management, referrals, linkages and care coordination. These services focus on helping Sunnydale families create strong and confident children that provides the foundation for building healthy lives. Sunnydale families who meet the program’s criteria are encouraged to access these resources by calling the SPARK team for a self-referral. If that’s you, please call Spark today, and get ready to shine with us!  

SPARK is a full service partnership program of Instituto Familiar de la Raza (IFR) funded by the Mental Health Services Act through SF Department of Public Health and SF Human Services Agency. Services are provided at home or at a satellite clinic in the targeted community. For more information please call the SPARK team at 415-319-3622.

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