PRINCETON — Helping children overcome the trauma in their lives is the mission of the Illinois Youth Services Bureau of Illinois Valley.
The “Cues and Clues of Trauma” was the theme for a Wednesday morning presentation at the Princeton Public Library by staff members of the Youth Services Bureau of Illinois Valley (YSB).
YSB Director of Outreach Cindy Robinson said trauma can be defined as anything that throws a person off balance, that affects his/her life and functioning ability. The things that traumatize may vary from person to person. Research shows that trauma which happens to young children can physically change the development of their brains, she said.
When children undergo trauma, they typically don’t know how to process or handle that trauma, Robinson added.
The YSB staff provides outreach crisis services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Robinson said, adding crisis situations and traumatic events happen in every community, even in rural areas like Bureau County.
“The thing is we all think this could never happen in my town, but some of the things that go on behind closed doors is atrocious,” Robinson said. “You think those kinds of things couldn’t happen in my town, but it does.”
In her comments, Loni Meyer, licensed clinical social worker with YSB, said children basically have one of two reactions to trauma. They become very extroverted, easily angered and ready to take a swing at someone, or they become very introverted, possibly self-cutting or having suicidal thoughts. Traumatized children tend to either over-react or under-react, she said.
In giving examples, Meyer talked about four children she has counseled. One child had been traumatized from infancy because he had not received proper and consistent care and lived in an environment with a lot of yelling. Another child lost his grandmother, his one consistent caregiver, to cancer. Another child assumed adult responsibilities to take care of his family. Another child was put into foster care even though she had a loving mother, but one who could not care for her daughter.
Though the situations are difficult, things can get better for the child with help, Meyer said.
“The thing to remember is there is hope, but it takes work,” Meyer said. “Research shows us that even one positive relationship in a child’s life can make a difference.”
In giving the statistics for the agency, YSB Executive Director Dave McClure said the agency has expanded significantly in the last year as two private agencies no longer provide that service. The YSB had been serving about 60 to 70 children in foster care in a five-county area, Today, YSB serves nearly 500 children in a 20-county area.
The mission of the YSB, to help young people and their families succeed by serving them in their home, school and community, has not been diluted with the expanded outreach, McClure said.
In addition to foster care and counseling services, the YSB’s local outreaches also include a Hispanic Center and Hope House, which provides supervised visitation and exchange for children in homes with a history of domestic violence, sexual abuse, staking or child abuse.
The Princeton YSB office is located at 1702 1/2 W. Peru St., phone 815-872-2119.
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