In celebration of its 110th anniversary of providing hope and healing to children struggling with the effects of trauma, Starr Commonwealth is launching a year of education, outreach, advocacy and storytelling to celebrate its legacy and broaden its impact.
The Albion-based nonprofit got its start in 1913, when a young man named Floyd Starr purchased a barn and 40 acres to create a refuge for “homeless, dependent, neglected and delinquent boys.” He based his work on the conviction “there is no such thing as a bad child,” working to treat the boys in his care with dignity and respect so he could change the trajectory of their lives.
Today, Starr Commonwealth has expanded its support to reach children, families, professionals and communities around the globe by working to heal trauma and build resilience in new and innovative ways. Drawing on the legacy of its founder, Starr has evolved from its humble beginnings by adding services that address the changing and increasingly complex issues facing children and those who care for them, as well as the ways they access support. These include:
- Online education: Self-paced courses and on-demand products draw on Starr’s 110 years of experience working with children and supporting educators and schools to recognize the signs of trauma and build resilience in – and beyond – the classroom.
- In-person training, coaching and certifications: Starr’s team of certified professionals offer in-person sessions for educators, clinicians and others in trauma-informed, resilience-focused and culturally responsive learning experiences.
- Direct behavioral health services: Community-based and in-home programs serve as preventative and early interventional measures designed to help children and families flourish.
“Our country is facing an unparalleled crisis when it comes to the mental health of our children and teens,” Starr President and CEO Elizabeth Carey said. “Rising rates of suicide, depression, anxiety and mental health-related emergencies prompted some of the nation’s leading experts on children to sound the alarm last year and declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health.
“For the past 110 years, Starr Commonwealth has recognized the toxic effects of trauma, no matter its origin, and worked to equip caregivers and professionals with the tools needed to help children build resilience. We dedicate this special anniversary year to sharing the century-plus expertise we have gained from supporting children and families through some of their darkest hours.
“While trauma is real, it does not seal an individual’s fate. During the coming year, we will continue to focus on our work to provide advocacy and education for children and their caregivers while we build awareness of – and find tools to address – this national mental health crisis for our children.”
Throughout the year, Starr Commonwealth will:
- Launch a learning series called “Mental Health Matters” and a podcast called “Constant Curiosity: A Trauma-Informed Podcast” to share timely information and solutions from professionals to professionals around the world.
- Exhibit and present at state and national conferences where professionals from around the region, country and world gather to learn best practices from one another in trauma-informed care.
- Host an alumni homecoming for former students and staff who were part of its residential campus.
- Celebrate with employees, alumni, partners, donors and the greater Michigan community during its seventh annual Night of Starrs on Oct. 5, which will include a reception, awards program, student performances and opportunities to support the mission of Starr Commonwealth.
Founded in 1913 as a home for runaway and homeless boys, Starr Commonwealth has grown and evolved over the decades to provide community-based programs, education and behavioral health services that create and promote universal hope, boundless love and limitless success for children. Some of its current programs and initiatives include:
- A new Student Resilience & Empowerment Center at the YMCA in Battle Creek for middle school students who have behavioral health challenges yet are not a fit for special education.
- An integrated service partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Michigan to deliver mental health support to children facing significant health issues, such as heart transplants.
- Direct interventions after mass shootings to provide immediate support and a long-term path forward for children, families and communities impacted by these tragedies.
- The expansion of new higher education certificates and graduate degrees in Michigan, Ohio and Iowa.
- New and expanded training modules to provide education for individual teachers and schools interested in trauma-informed education.
- Specialized trauma assessments and trauma interventions for children and adolescents in clinics, schools and other community settings, as well as virtually via telehealth.
- Curriculum and training for Office of Refugee Resettlement staff working with refugee children.
- A new certification track for early childhood professionals.
- A unique partnership with former NBA player and education advocate Willie Burton to deliver ExcelU, Burton’s evidence-based curricula for student success and life skills, to districts nationwide and to likeminded former professional athletes seeking to give back to their communities as ExcelU trainers.
From its headquarters in Albion, Starr blends three key focuses – healing trauma, addressing racism and encouraging positive growth – into a comprehensive model of working with youth that is unique in the nation. Unlike other agencies that focus on trauma and resilience, Starr also offers tangible tools for teachers, social workers, health care professionals, public safety officers and others on the frontline of working with children. Many of its classes and resources are available online.