U of R’s Child Trauma Research Centre launches Digital Connections Hub to support the well-being of children, youth, families, and service providers in the Prairies

News Release Release Date: December 9, 2020 11:00 a.m.

In conjunction with the University of Regina Faculty of Social Work, the Child Trauma Research Centre (CTRC) has launched a Digital Connections Hub to support children, youth, families, and service-providers during the pandemic. This new website serves as a single point of access that enables Prairie-based organizations, caregivers, service providers, teachers, frontline workers, and government to find and distribute knowledge and best practices relevant to their work. 

The Digital Connections Hub has been made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and a $47,000 Knowledge Synthesis Grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, both awarded late last spring. 

“We have been working hard since June to navigate and synthesize the rapidly growing body of COVID-19 research and resources in relation to vulnerable children and families, some of who are involved with the child welfare system, in the Prairies and beyond,” says Dr. Lise Milne, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work, who is partnering with CTRC director Dr. Nathalie Reid on the project. 

“We learned from the service providers themselves that, due to time constraints and work pressure, they have had difficulties accessing, sharing, evaluating, and applying knowledge of best practices,” says Dr. Reid. “The research team has created and populated the website with vetted, synthesized, and translated research and resources to help child-serving organizations across the Prairies mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on the mental health of children, families, and workers.” 

The Digital Connections Hub received the endorsement of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Social Services, Eagles Nest Youth Ranch, and Street Culture Project, as well as Manitoba’s Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba and Macdonald Youth Services. These organizations provide services to thousands of children and youth in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, whether within child welfare settings or out in the community. 

“In this extraordinary time of COVID-19, it is very important to be able to understand the mental health impacts related to child welfare services for clients and staff so that future decisions can be based on evidence-based research,” writes Natalie Huber, Saskatchewan Assistant Deputy Minister, Child and Family Programs.

“Due to the pandemic, our frontline staff have been faced with managing worries about their own health and risks, as they continue to assess the safety of children in their homes,” says Arlene Stewart, Chief Executive Officer, Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba. “Having a centralized and easily accessible location for trauma-informed and responsive resources is very beneficial during this crisis, as trying to sort through volumes of information can be overwhelming, and perhaps even more anxiety-producing.”  

The newly developed and innovative tool comprises current, evidence-based child well-being research and practical resources related to COVID-19 and other potential health crises. It will facilitate easy access to content focusing on the physical, mental, and emotional health needs of children, as well as providing supportive, concrete tools for caregivers, service providers, teachers, frontline workers, and government. 

Currently, the Digital Connections Hub offers access to 400 sources that have been synthesized and refashioned into information briefs and posters, most of which have been translated into French. Also included are news highlights, with upcoming bi-weekly feature stories from service providers and youth called ‘Perspectives from the Field’, along with a section dedicated to publicly available resources for Indigenous children, families and communities. 

The CTRC is committed to serving as a nexus for trauma research that brings together faculty, researchers, community partners, service providers, and governments in innovative, meaningful, and efficient ways. For more information, please visit: http://www.childtraumaresearch.ca. For regular updates, please follow the Centre on Twitter (@UR_CTRC) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/URCTRC). 

*** CTRC Director, Dr. Nathalie Reid and Dr. Lise Milne are available for interviews. Arrangements can be made via the listed media contact.


About the University of Regina:

The University of Regina—with campuses located on Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 territories, the ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota and Nakoda nations and the homeland of the Métis—is a comprehensive, mid-sized university that traces its roots back to the creation of Regina College in 1911. Today, more than 16,500 students study within the University's 10 faculties, 25 academic departments/schools, 18 research centres and institutes, and three federated colleges (Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College). The University of Regina has an established reputation for excellence and innovative programs that lead to undergraduate, master, and doctoral degrees. The University of Regina was named the Research University of the Year in 2020 (undergraduate category) by Research Infosource.


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