Urban Trauma Performance Improvement Center (UTPIC)

Who We Are

The Urban Trauma Performance Improvement Center (UTPIC) serves as the state of Connecticut’s experts on improving service quality and outcomes for organizations working with Black, Indegenious, Latinx, Youth & Children of Color. The purpose of our performance improvement center is to serve as the premier training center in Racial Trauma, to support organizations with capacity and sustainability improvement, and to provide consultation surrounding the topic of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI). These services are aimed at both expanding services provided to children and youth of Color while simultaneously enhancing the quality of services and outcomes for children and youth of Color.

Areas of Focus


As the Performance Improvement Center for increasing the quality of services and outcomes for children and youth of color, UTPIC offers a host of different training services on Racial Trauma, JEDI, and other equity based topics. As part of the several training topics UTPIC offers, the performance improvement center provides training on two gold standard models within the areas of Racial Trauma and JEDI. These two premier models include Dr. Maysa Akbar’s Urban Trauma framework, as well as Dr. Steven Kniffley’s Racial Trauma Treatment models.

Capacity Building & Sustainability

UTPIC offers support and ongoing training for long-term organizational sustainability through consultation, infrastructure development, and introduction to basic business practices for organizations. These efforts are aimed at expanding the total number of services provided to children and youth of color within Connecticut by supporting the growth and longevity of organizations currently in operation or beginning the process of providing services. UTPIC offers a host of consultative services to provide organizations with the necessary resources and information needed to both expand and/or start up organizations focused on servicing children and youth of color.

Service Quality Improvement

Service Quality Improvement is at the core of the UTPIC. As the experts on racial trauma we provide guidance on how to modify and adapt Evidence-Based Practices, organizational policy & culture, as well as client engagement to fit within the Urban and Racial Trauma models we specialize in. As a performance improvement center we implement performance improvement site visits to review strengths and needs for organizations. These site visits serve to promote the identification, development, and implementation of effective service models and practices which align with JEDI. Alongside supporting organizations in identifying areas of need, we also provide input and best practices to support organizations in ultimately improving within these areas through consultation and progress monitoring.

Data Driven

All of the areas UTPIC focuses on and the services we provide to organizations is thoroughly backed by data. We utilize a variety of different methods of both measuring and improving an organization’s data quality. Through the utilization of data dashboards we support organizations in their quality improvement activities by assisting them in collecting, reviewing, and utilizing trend analyses, tests of significance and other measures of program functioning and performance to ultimately improve their organizations JEDI efforts.

Urban Trauma Provider Network

Background of the Urban Trauma Network Initiative

The Urban Trauma Network Initiative (UTNI) was created as a response to the national racism epidemic which has become more prevalent and has gained increased coverage within the last couple of years amidst the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 Pandemic has had within communities of color.

Black, Indegenious, Latinx, children and youth of color have been disproportionately affected by the continued increase in urban violence and the impact of structural, institutional, and personal racism intersecting with the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resilience of children and youth has been greatly diminished during this pandemic – resulting in many needing emergency mental health interventions in various settings. Our communities of color, and specifically our Black, Indegenious, Latinx children of color, have been the most heavily impacted by the current challenges faced.

Alongside the horrendous impact this pandemic has had on communities of color, they have had to also face an increase in experiences of racism and national coverage of racially motivated harm within their communities leading to ever compounding exposure to racial trauma.

After viewing the severe impact which the pandemic and the racism epidemic was having  amongst our communities of color, and specifically within the BILPOC youth here in CT, the Department of Children and Families decided to further investigate into the capacity and quality of mental health services communities of color have within the state that could support our youth.

Their investigation found that for far too long, youths of color have received generic mental health services which lack key components for their long term improvement such as: the inclusion of the youths unique environment, their lived experience, and the utilization of a generational and inherited racial trauma lens to address racial trauma. By not addressing any potential racial trauma that the child has experienced, providers are unable to see a complete picture of youths of color seen within behavioral health. This has become even more important within the last couple of years due to the stress children of color have experienced amongst the disproportionate impact of the pandemic as well as increased exposure to racism either personally or through news coverage.

This analysis of the current mental health services provided to youths of color within Connecticut also highlighted that many providers within the field of mental health have received very limited, if any, training on addressing and supporting individuals experiencing racial trauma. This limited training on the matter of racial trauma means that even if a provider is able to identify the role racial trauma may be having on an individual’s presentation within their treatment, they lack the required interventions to help that individual heal from these racial traumas. As a result of the lack of inclusion of these components, youths of color within Connecticut have been misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and have ultimately not benefited from mental health services to its full potential.

Additionally, recent research has shown that despite the increased stressors occurring, communities of color continue to be hesitant to access mental health services, including services for their children, due to historical racial injustices within the profession, lack of representation within the providers who are providing these services, and a general distrust that these services will be able to truly understand and support them.

Seeing these areas of improvement across the mental health services provided within the state of Connecticut the Department of Children and Families partnered up with the Urban Trauma organization to revolutionize mental health services provided to youth of color within the state by addressing the key issues within the system in a holistic and all encompassing initiative, the Urban Trauma Network Initiative.

What is the Urban Trauma Network Initiative?

The Urban Trauma Network Initiative (UTNI) is a transformative project to redefine the mental health services youths of color within CT receive in Connecticut. The initiative seeks to improve these services through proper racially equitable training for providers as well as through supporting organizations in racially just capacity building while focusing on long-term sustainability. In order to implement this initiative UTPIC  will establish the Urban Trauma Provider Network, a network of providers trained on racial trauma and equipped with the knowledge necessary to better support youth of color experiencing racial trauma. Apart from individual provider training this initiative will also work with the organizations wherein the providers work to support them in improving upon their Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) initiatives with a focus on capacity building for long term sustainability. Organizations within the UTPN will receive support from UTPIC in developing Performance Improvement Plans focused on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as well as consultative support, data collection improvement, infrastructure development, business practice support, improvement site visits, and the identification, development, and implementation of effective service models and practices rooted in racial equity. As a part of this network organizations will also receive support from UTPIC in creating community partnerships, community events & initiatives, and work on further integrating themselves as support centers for communities of color.

UTNI Phases

Phase 1

Phase 1 Description

The Urban Trauma Performance Improvement Center (UTPIC) will partner up with organizations committed to the mental health of youths of color, who have or are prepared to align their organizations with the initiatives’ focus on racially just practices. During this phase we will be identifying community partners and supporting them in building their capacities to do this work.

Part of this capacity building will focus around diversifying the workforce, supporting organizational shifts towards racially just practices, and enhancing data driven metrics.

UTPIC will be looking to partner up with organizations of all sizes from grass-roots organizations to integrally established organizations within the community focused or interested on the mental health of youths of color as well as dedicated to community improvements and social justice focused work.

Phase 2

Phase 2 Description

In Phase 2 UTPIC will begin the training of providers within the organizations on the Urban Trauma framework developed by Dr. Maysa Akbar as well as on Dr. Steven Kniffleys’ Racial Trauma Treatment. These two guiding frameworks will support the initiatives focus on training providers to become well educated on racial trauma and the unique stressors of youths of color, as well as to learn best practices on how to support their mental health within sessions.

Phase 3

Phase 3 Description

In Phase 3 of the UTNI, organizations in which providers have completed the necessary training will begin the process of providing these enhanced services to youths of color throughout Connecticut. During this phase data will be collected on the providers performance and youths improvements within sessions to truly drive the initiative to continuously improve in order to best service Connecticut’s youth of color.

Phase 4

Phase 4 Description

Lastly, within phase 4, UTPIC will continue to support organizations within the UTPN by providing ongoing training and fidelity sessions, reviewing data on the effectiveness of these improved interventions, and continue to focus on growing and sustaining this network throughout Connecticut. There is a commitment within this initiative to expand the network beyond the initial organizations selected to be a part of this project in the future as well as several opportunities for organizations to become a part of the initiative in some way.

Learn More About UTNI

What are UTNI’s Objectives?

Improve Quality of Services

Improve Accessibility

Improve Representation

Improve Communities