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Kids to Love breaks ground on mental wellness center

MADISON — The Kids to Love Foundation broke ground Monday on the Smith Family Wellness Center in honor of Mark C. Smith.

Through a donation from his widow, Linda Smith, the facility is another step in the foundation’s mission to meet the needs of children living in foster care.

Located at the Kids to Love Center at 140 Castle Drive in Madison, the center will house therapy rooms and offices for the Grant Hill Trauma Team. The trauma team is named for the late Alabama football player and Huntsville High graduate Grant Hill. He was working on his doctorate in counseling, when he was killed in a hunting accident in November 2021.

“This new facility will fill a critical need in the foster care community,” said Kids to Love founder and CEO Lee Marshall. “Every single child in foster care has experienced trauma in some form. That trauma needs healing, and we know that trauma can be treated. Our team is ready to meet that need and get these children the help they need to live healthy lives.”

Lee Marshall speaks at Smith Family Wellness Center groundbreaking (Kids to Love contributed)

The center’s aim is to change the trajectory of children’s lives by dealing head-on with the trauma of abuse, neglect and abandonment.

The Grant Hill Trauma Team, including Kids to Love’s clinical director and therapists, will offer a new approach with instinctual trauma response treatments. This ITR treatment will determine the level of trauma a child has experienced and address the trauma they’ve experienced to improve their cognitive and behavioral health — areas where most children in care struggle.

ITR treatment reduces or eliminates troubling symptoms caused by any trauma, including in utero or pre-verbal trauma.

Kids to Love founder Lee Marshall & Madison Mayor Paul Finley at the groundbreaking for the new Smith Family Wellness Center (Kids to Love contributed)

Children in foster care have mental and behavioral health needs and, in Alabama, there are significant delays in getting them support. That delay is causing harm as foster family placements get disrupted, kids end up in situations where they’re moved to more restrictive levels of care or institutionalized, and treatment is usually limited to once a month.

The wellness center will allow the Grant Hill Trauma Team to treat children with no delay and no limitations on how often they’re seen. Therapists specialized in trauma treatment will be able to provide consistent and effective treatment.

The 10,000-square-foot facility will also have a kitchen, warehouse, lab and classroom space for Kids to Love’s private school KTECH, and more.

Since its inception, Kids to Love has helped more than 300,000 foster children.

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