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New center will focus on helping kids and teens overcome 'complex trauma'

UMFS Child and Family Healing Center 1.jpg
Posted at 11:00 AM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 11:01:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. — United Methodist Family Services of Virginia, a nonprofit that's helped kids and families in the Commonwealth for 120 years, unveiled a new facility at its Richmond campus to help teens and preteens overcome "complex trauma."

"Happy, grateful, impressed with all the work that led us to get to this point," said UMFS President and CEO Dr. Nancy Toscano of the opening. "I would say mostly grateful is the overriding feeling."

The 33,600-square-foot Child & Family Healing Center took eight years to finish from its original inception, and replaced five cottages that had stood since the 1950s.

"We wanted to have a more updated space to meet the level of needs that our kids have," said Toscano. "Our kids need and deserve more of a retreat-like setting where there's great space for the community to come together, but also space for privacy and outdoor space and recreational facilities."

The facility has room for 50 children between the ages of 11-17 and helps children, whether in the foster care system or not, deal with complex trauma that leads to emotional or behavioral issues.

"Complex trauma happens in childhood, often in childhood, when they've experienced abuse neglect or violence and before they're able to process it, sometimes it comes out with externalizing some behaviors and they're not able to function as well as typically-developing would," said Toscano. "So, they come to us so that we can, kind of, uncover that trauma and help them come to terms with it and then get strong in those broken spots and become resilient and then go back into the community."

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UMFS President and CEO Dr. Nancy Toscano

The facility is made up of five units, each with living quarters, communal and private spaces and therapy rooms.

Among those who attended Tuesday's unveiling were former foster children who lived on the UMFS campus, including Virginia Del. David Reid (D - 32), who spoke of the growth of UMFS from an orphanage in 1900, to the full wraparound child and family services it provides now.

"What it does is it allows the child to actually go back into their family and have a better relationship or to go to a foster family and then be able to be successful," said Reid.

The cost of the revamp was over $11 million, but is part of a larger reconstruction effort totaling around $23 million — part of its Be a Champion capital campaign. The next phase of the project will include additions to its Charterhouse School, which serves K-12 students with special needs.

"That will have additional classrooms, vocational classrooms, recreational spaces for the kids who are in the day program but also in our residential facility," added Toscano. "It will also involve upgrades to our outdoor space as well."

Toscano said they hope break ground on that project in the summer.

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UMFS Child and Family Healing Center

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