Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $678,000)
Roca’s goal is to help create a pathway that will eliminate the key barriers to care and bring behavioral health services into the communities that need it most.
In the wake of COVID-19, urban violence has spiked in communities across Massachusetts, driven, in large part, by highly traumatized young people who are unwilling or unable to participate in traditional counseling, programming, school, or work. These young people are being left behind, setting our communities up for continuing cycles of violence and poverty.
Meanwhile, across the Commonwealth, violence, poverty, systemic racism and disparities in access to critical behavioral health care are inextricably linked. While these challenges have been in place for decades, during the pandemic, the disparities in access to behavioral health care have only grown alongside rising violence – and the implication is clear: Unless we reach the communities most devastated by the pandemic with behavioral health care, we cannot reduce urban violence, we will not reduce poverty and we will not be able to bring justice to our inherently inequitable communities.
To address this spiking violence and trauma among young people in urban communities across Massachusetts, Roca will deliver behavioral health services to 1,000 of our most disengaged young people and young parents, those most likely to shoot or be shot. The project will fund five highly trained behavioral health case managers and one cognitive behavioral theory (CBT) coach to train criminal justice partners. This will further enhance Roca’s effective work to help young people and system leaders address the trauma that drives violent behavior.
Roca is seeking $677,589 to support this pilot project and demonstrate the impact on community violence that can be achieved by connecting the young people who drive urban violence with appropriate clinical and behavioral health care. The project will deliver a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, brought to them in the community, with more traditional, intensive clinical care.
Roca uses CBT, the most evidence-based form of psychotherapy, in all aspects of our work with young people. Unlike the more traditional versions of CBT, Rewire – Roca’s CBT approach – is radical in that it draws on understanding of brain science and the impact of trauma to meet people where they are, and dismantles existing hierarchies by trusting and empowering outreach workers working directly with individuals to deliver a behavior change intervention that is most impactful when practiced and used in real life and in real time.