CHICAGO, Feb. 10, 2020 — ChildServ plans to revolutionize and humanize the way children and young people who have suffered trauma are being supported to ensure they are given every opportunity to heal and succeed.
February 6 marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Taj Smith, a 17-year-old foster youth in ChildServ’s care who was fatally shot in front of a friend’s house. His tragic death warranted a mere six lines in one local newspaper. There was no obituary, no major news report, no graveside service or burial.
Recognizing the injustice related to the lack of public outcry, ChildServ is reaffirming its commitment in 2020 to both elevating the complete stories of youth like Taj Smith who were taken too soon, and employing innovative therapeutic tools so young people can achieve their potential.
“In 2019, we reached many milestones, impacted more children, and made more of a difference in the lives of kids and families, but we know we have a lot more to do,” said ChildServ President and CEO Dan Kotowski. “The fact is, we lost two kids last year to gun violence, and we need to do everything within our power to step up for young people, so they have a chance to live long, productive, and happy lives.”
For the past several years ChildServ has been the forward momentum behind bringing trauma-informed care to Chicago’s nonprofit community. They emphasize inventive, alternative methods of prevention and healing like yoga, humor, recreational outings, and equine, drama, movement, and art therapies to help young people heal and improve their physical and mental well-being.
“There is frightening data that says one third of children in foster care are on some form of psychotropic medication,” Kotowski said. “We can’t help kids to heal through medication alone. We need to provide kids with multiple ways to work through their physical and emotional suffering so they can have the best life possible. This means locating and treating the underlying causes of their trauma, not simply numbing the symptoms. Something has to change, and we are committed to becoming that catalyst.”