mark ShriverThe UK College of Social Work will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Irma Sarett Rosenstein Lecture on September 12th with Mark Shriver, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs for the charity Save the Children. Mr. Shriver will be presenting on the importance of early childhood issues affecting vulnerable populations. His presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with some of Kentucky’s leaders in early childhood initiatives and a chance for audience participation. The event will address the numerous opportunities and challenges encountered in the creation of innovative programming for young children.

The UK Center on Trauma and Children is partnering with Save the Children to make this an informative event for the community of professionals working on behalf of young children in this state and those interested in the issues facing this population. The event will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Singletary Center for the Arts, Recital Hall on the University of Kentucky campus. A reception will immediately follow, and this event is free and open to the public. Continuing education credit for Social Work and Psychology professionals is available by registering with Christina Hoglen at Seating is limited. Please RSVP by contacting Heather Bosworth at or 257-6654.

CTAC has launched a FREE online training to prepare public health officials and workers to effectively plan for and respond to pandemic events in a manner that is sensitive to the needs of children and families, enhances compliance with public health recommendations, and supports resiliency in the pediatric population.  Free continuing education credit is available. Please visit:  for more information.

Dr. TothThe Center on Trauma and Children (CTAC) hosted a Master Clinician Round Table on the topic “Treating Traumatized Children and Families: Clinical Perspectives” on Tuesday, October 4. This year’s featured speaker was Sheree Toth, executive director of Mt. Hope Family Center and Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Rochester, New York. Mt. Hope Family Center is a translational research center dedicated to helping children and families improve their lives and build strong, healthy relationships.

Dr. Toth discussed intervention programs offered by Mt. Hope in the areas of family functioning, parenting, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, and coping with violence. She emphasized the importance of using evidence-based practices in programs and clinical interventions, and provided insight into how to select and evaluate the most efficacious evidence-based practices for one’s client population. There were myriad similarities between Mt. Hope and CTAC in client population and programs offered, and CTAC clinicians engaged Dr. Toth in a vigorous discussion throughout the round table.

Dr. Toth's research is guided by a developmental psychopathology perspective emphasizing the interplay between normal and atypical development and addresses the transactions between ecological contexts and development. Her empirical work has examined factors contributing to maladjustment in children who have been physically or sexually abused, or neglected. Dr. Toth is also committed to applying research findings to real world settings in order to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice. In particular, she has conducted a number of randomized clinical trials with maltreated children and with offspring of depressed mothers that have utilized relationally-based methods of intervention, including Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy.

The Center on Trauma and Children seeks to answer the tough questions asked by distressed children everywhere. It is our mission to promote safety, health and well-being in children exposed to all types of trauma.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 2, 2011) —The University of Kentucky College of Social Work's Center on Trauma and Children(CSVAC) lived up to its promise to bridge research and the real world this past spring with a forum titled, "Exploring the Context of Child Trauma: Opportunities for Action."
Students, clinicians and faculty presented on a variety of topics relating to CSVAC's work on April 22 at the Hilary J. Boone Center.  The interdisciplinary team of presenters included 18 students from social work, clinical, developmental, school and counseling psychology, and nursing that are completing practicums, research fellowships, internships and rotations at CSVAC.
"Interdisciplinary research forums like those sponsored by CSVAC truly showcase the great work that UK faculty and students are doing for the community, the Commonwealth, the nation and the world," said UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy, who also opened the forum.
"Participation in the research forum provided a great opportunity to formally present and discuss my research with members of the community, my professors and my peers," said doctoral student Jessica Eslinger, who presented research on rates of caregiver completion in children's trauma psychotherapy. "Although many of us presenting at the forum focused on different aspects of the work done at the center, it is always interesting to hear about how others are tackling their research questions and the results that they have found."
In addition to Eslinger's research, forum topics included child trauma symptoms; the assessment of the trauma-exposed child and of caregivers for child maltreatment risk; the relationship of parental substance use to child trauma; secondary traumatic stress and healthcare professionals working with traumatized children; and predictors of fatal child maltreatment.
"Discussion and translational application is critical to any research project," said CSVAC director and Buckhorn Professor of Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health Ginny Sprang. "Through forums like these, we continue to inform best practices in understanding, assessing, preventing and intervening with children who have experienced all types of adversities in the Commonwealth and beyond."
Eslinger's study yielded some interesting results and forum discussion. According to her research, children with exposure to domestic violence were at an elevated risk of early dropout from psychotherapy treatment, while neglected children more frequently completed treatment.  Both younger and biological or adoptive caregivers were more likely to drop out early from treatment, she said, while children in foster care were more likely to complete treatment.
"This suggests that external pressures to comply with case planning recommendations may be a factor impacting treatment completion," she explained.
"Helping professionals are constantly challenged with trying to figure out how best to help children and their families who have experienced trauma while balancing limited financial resources," Eslinger said. "Continued research into clinical practices that lead to more positive outcomes for children and their families is universally relevant. Kentucky, in particular, faces many challenges regarding the provision of effective and efficient mental health services to both rural and urban parts of the state."
Eslinger recommends student-focused research forums like these to her peers in all disciplines.
"This is the best place to practice presenting one's work in a context similar to that found at professional conferences," she said. "There were also several presenters whose work offered possible insights into my own research as well."

CSVAC is a translational research center that uses clinical practice, research and training on child and family trauma in an effort to address the detrimental effect of violence against children in the Commonwealth, as well as the nation.

(Oct. 30, 2010) Annual Gala

By Erin Holaday

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 3, 2010) – This is your chance to publicly honor someone from Kentucky who has made a difference to children. This is your chance to sponsor a cause with lifelong benefits.

The Center for the Study of Violence Against Children needs your compassion and your help.

CSVAC's second annual gala, themed "Someone to Watch Over Me," will take place from 7-11 p.m. on October 30, at UK's Hilary J. Boone Center. In preparation for the event, CSVAC is asking for event sponsors, as well as nominations for its esteemed Circle of Compassion award. Sponsorship levels range from $1,000-$10,000 and include the patron's name on the program, complimentary event tickets and a displayed banner at the event and around Lexington.

"The monies raised at the gala are used to benefit abused and traumatized children served by our center," said CSVAC director Ginny Sprang. "No child should be a victim," added event sponsor Molly Sutherland, of Sutherland and Associates. "A healthy child will become a healthy adult in a healthy society."

The Circle of Compassion Award provides a chance for the community to publicly honor someone from Kentucky making a difference to children…children who have experienced maltreatment…children that have been deprived of a safe and healthy childhood.

Nominators must fill out a form with basic information on the nominee, in addition to a typed narrative of 250 words or less on the impact he or she has had on creating a better world for children exposed to violence. The award will "honor those that make happy endings possible," said CSVAC.

"The Circle of Compassion award is our way of honoring individuals in the community that have proven themselves to be strong, compassionate advocates for children exposed to violence," said Sprang.

Award winners will have the honor of their images and stories displayed at the gala and throughout Lexington. The circle will grow each year as others join in the future.

The CSVAC celebration will feature wine and bourbon tastings, as well as youth entertainment, including singers and a string quartet from School for the Creative and Performing Arts. But CSVAC's children will remain the focus of the evening, as the center plans to release a new video about its mission and successes to date for the first time.

Aug. 22, 2009( Annual Gala)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 2, 2009) -- Guests were treated like royalty at a recent benefit for The Center for the Study on the Violence Against Children (CSVAC). The first-ever fundraising gala for CSVAC was held at CastlePost, the familiar Versailles Road landmark better known simply as “the castle.” In the shadow of medieval-styled turrets, guests enjoyed wine tastings, silent auctions and music provided by the Lexington Singers Children’s Choir – all to benefit the work of CSVAC in the study and prevention of violence against children.

Broadcasting legend and Kentucky native Nick Clooney served as master of ceremonies for the event, and opening remarks were delivered by UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari. Calipari was joined by men’s basketball assistant coach Scott Padgett and his wife Cynthia – both UK College of Social Work alumni.

Awards recognized invitees who have been instrumental in the fight to stop violence against children. Clooney was honored with the Children’s Peace Award, in recognition of the humanitarian work of the Clooney family in the war-torn region of Darfur. For her work on childhood poverty and violence against children, UK alumna and actress Ashley Judd was named as the recipient of the Children’s Voice Award. The Friend of the Children award was given to Nancy Rawlings, a CSVAC Community Council member whose fundraising work was key to the establishment of CSVAC.

Other highlights included remarks from Kay Hoffman, former dean of the College of Social Work, Ginny Sprang, CSVAC director and Jonathan Miller, secretary for the Kentucky Cabinet of Finance and Administration.

CSVAC is a coordinated partnership between the UK College of Social Work and the UK College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, and employs scientists and clinicians who are actively engaged in a wide range of basic and applied research investigations, program development and evaluation, clinical technology design, implementation, testing, dissemination and public policy consultation.

To learn more about CSVAC and opportunities to support the center in its mission to end violence against children, visit or call (859) 543-0078.

CONTACT: Hannah Drutz or Whitney Hale, (859) 257-1754 ext. 229

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 7, 2008) – Experts from the Center for the Study on the Violence Against Children (CSVAC) at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work will present the Sixth Annual Irma Sarett Rosenstein Lecture. The event theme, "In the Best Interest of Children: Contemporary Debates," will bring together several leading thinkers and researchers in issues related to child welfare at the annual program scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the W.T. Young Library Auditorium.

The Rosenstein lecture will feature two Lincoln-Douglas style debates examining issues of translational science; violence against children; utility of evidence in real world settings; and policy and practice implications of the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
Interactive debate participants in this year's event include:

  • Ginny Sprang, the Buckhorn Endowed Professor of Child Welfare and Children's Mental Health in the UK College of Social Work and director of CSVAC;
  • Jim Clark, the Wilson Professor of Mental Health in the College of Social Work and associate director of CSVAC;
  • Otto Kaak, professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and social work and associate director of CSVAC;
  • Aimee Mau, licensed clinical social worker and clinical specialist with the Child and Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training Institute at CSVAC
  • Carlton D. Craig, assistant professor of social work and faculty associate at CSVAC;
  • Kay Hubbard, assessment coordinator of Comprehensive Assessment and Training Services Project at CSVAC; and
  • Heather Risk, project director for the Child and Adolescent Trauma Treatment and Training Institute at CSVAC.

The debates presented as part of the Rosenstein Lecture will conclude with opportunities for attendee participation, critique and a facilitated discussion of the issues within contemporary practice.

The Center for the Study on the Violence Against Children (CSVAC) is dedicated to the enhancement of the health and well-being of children and their families through research, service and dissemination of information about child abuse and trauma.

The Rosenstein Lecture, sponsored by the College of Social Work, is designed to bring nationally known speakers to UK. The lecture topics include child and family welfare issues of significance to our community, state, and society as a whole. The prestigious annual lecture is made possible by a generous gift from Irma and Irving Rosenstein, Lexington business leaders.

Individuals interested in attending the Rosenstein Lecture should reserve space. For more information or to make a reservation to attend the event, contact the College of Social Work via e-mail to or call (859) 257-6654.

(May 7-8, 2008) Scientific Meeting

Lexington, Kentucky. Spindletop Hall.

Abstracts for the Keynote Presentations are as follows:

Relational Poverty in the Modern World:
Bruce Perry, M.D.

The development of a child is profoundly influenced by experience.  Experiences shape the organization of the brain, which, in turn, influences the emotional, social, cognitive and physiological activities.  Insights into this process come from understanding brain development. The modern approach to education, care giving and therapeutic services is inherently disrespectful of two main neurobiological gifts of humankind: our fundamental relational nature and our rapid organization during the first years of life.  The current educational and care giving models in the West are generally ignorant of, or openly disrespectful to, these gifts.  The results are catastrophic; the result is too many aggressive, selfish, materialistic, amoral and emotionally empty children.  Increases in emotional, physical, social and behavioral problems can all be traced to adverse experiences in childhood and to a lack of social fabric.  Both the problem and solutions were discussed in this presentation.

The Importance of Early Experiences: Clinical, Research and Policy Perspectives
Charles H. Zeanah, M.D.

A longstanding debate in psychology concerns the degree to which early experiences matter for subsequent development.  On the one hand, some have argued that early experiences are effaced away by subsequent experiences and have no special importance in the development of the individual.  Others have argued that early experiences are more important than later experiences and deserve special attention.  Although this debate is unresolved, in this presentation, I selectively review relevant data from clinical, research and policy perspectives on the question of the importance of early experiences.  The answer to the question of the importance of early experiences, I argue, is not necessarily the same in these three arenas and depends upon the context in which it is being asked.  In the clinical arena, a liberal approach must hold sway, as a specific treatment plan must be proposed and implemented for the patient now, even if much is unknown.  Conclusions derived from research, on the other hand, are inherently conservative--slow to emerge and usually qualified at best.  Policy decisions are intermediate between these extremes, as funding priorities need to be made based on reasonable evidence, but before definitive answers are known.

The Effects of Psychotherapy on the Adult Brain: Do They Apply to Children?
Jerald Kay, M.D.

There has been dramatic progress within the last decade toward the understanding of the neurobiology of psychotherapy in adulthood. Advances in cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging have suggested models of change in both neuroanatomy and neurophysiology following psychotherapeutic intervention, which in turn have been informed by the elucidation of the process of neuroplasticity throughout the brain.   Psychotherapy has been demonstrated to affect structure and function in the cortex, limbic system, and basal ganglia to name but a few.  The interaction between psychopathology as expressed via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and learning and memory has pointed to specific mechanisms through which psychotherapy is helpful.

Greater appreciation of the psychobiology of attachment and its disorders as well as increasing sophistication in the study of gene-environment interaction, has emphasized the need for early intervention in children. Challenges to the translation of neurobiological findings following psychotherapy in adulthood to children were discussed and future areas of inquiry in the treatment of children were highlighted.

Lunchtime Keynote: Honorable Patricia FitzGerald-Chief Judge, Jefferson County Family Court  “A Judicial Perspective on Early Childhood Experience and Violence Against Children”

Judge FitzGerald discussed the forensic and judicial implications of the meeting presentations for family court and family law, issues related to therapeutic jurisprudence, and the role of the judiciary in the protection of children exposed to violence.

Meeting papers were published as a special edition of the Journal of Loss and Trauma, Volume 14, No. 4, 2009.