In December, 2014 The Baltimore Sun published a series highlighting the University of Maryland, Baltimore-led Promise Heights Initiative and its work to overcome the effects of childhood trauma. The following is a letter to the editor published in The Sun written by School of Social Work Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, advocating a broad-based community approach to enhance and build upon the work of Promise Heights.
Andrea McDaniels' excellent series on the trauma associated with violence and The Sun's editorial both mention Promise Heights, the cradle to college effort to help children, parents, schools and communities address the aftermath of early trauma ("Advocates aim to save Baltimore children from impact of violence,"Dec. 13).
This effort is now focused in Upton/Druid Heights and led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work. But the work must be everyone's.
A federal Promise Neighborhood planning grant awarded in 2012 ends in one week, and although we have used those funds to make significant progress and start many services, the support has been much broader.
In addition to our many partners at the University of Maryland Baltimore, we have partners in foundations, in the Baltimore City Schools, in the Family League and among banks, churches and others. We need this continued investment and a wider circle of those who can help to change the culture of violence and, preventively, the culture of school and family life.
We are hoping for the possibility of additional federal dollars through a CHOICE grant or a future Promise Neighborhoods implementation grant. But what we are sure of is that Promise Heights is much bigger than any single grant or program. This is a comprehensive, place-based initiative that we expect to expand and become as deeply rooted here as is the Harlem Children's Zone in New York City.
Richard P. Barth, Baltimore
The writer is dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work.