By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing and Communications
The mission of the Kellin Foundation is to strengthen resilience for children, families, adults, and communities through trauma-informed behavioral health services focused on prevention, treatment, and healing.
“We prevent, treat, and heal,” said Dr. Kelly Graves, Kellin Foundation’s executive director, and co-founder. “We do this primarily two ways – one is behavioral health services including mental health and substance abuse, and the second strategy is community and systems transformation.”
Focused on advocacy and outreach, clinical and peer support services, and building resilient communities, the organization serves about 10,000 people a year. The Kellin Foundation is one of only two nationally recognized community behavioral health centers in North Carolina with expertise and focus on trauma and resiliency as a partner with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Duke University is the other center.
“Using that trauma-informed lens is critical because our behavioral health, our physical health, and our health, in general, is strongly connected to stress and adversity,” Graves said. “It’s understanding and realizing the impact that trauma has, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress has on our bodies and integrating what we know about these impacts into our practices, policies, and treatment.”
The organization created the Child Response Initiative (CRI), which helps children impacted by violence and stress and their families. CRI has four objectives: early intervention, information and education, community connection and referral, and building relationships. It provides community-based coordinated services delivered within a trauma-informed framework, leveraging the Guilford County Trauma Provider Network, a group of about 30 partners and organizations that work together to support safety and wellness among children and families.
Graves explained that traumatic stress can be experienced through an adverse childhood experience and systemic issues like discrimination and racism. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has created a broad awakening that stress impacts every aspect of our life, including mental health.
“The pandemic has opened the door to deeper conversation around how stress impacts us and the importance of monitoring and addressing that stress,” Graves said.
In addition to her work at the Kellin Foundation, Graves has been involved in Ready for School, Ready for Life’s system-building work, serving on various focus groups, workgroups, and committees throughout the years. She recently participated in the ages 3-5 social-emotional development workgroup for Phase II of Ready Ready’s work.
“What I’m excited to see in Ready Ready and in groups across the community is the emphasis given to the importance of social-emotional development and mental health as critical to helping children get ready for kindergarten, as well as the importance of taking a multi-generational approach to the work,” Graves said.
Graves and her team at the Kellin Foundation believe that behavioral health is strongly connected to adversity and trauma; everyone deserves to live in a home and in a community that is safe and free of trauma; that people, families, and communities are resilient and can thrive despite adversity; and that community organizations and systems play a key role in addressing adversity and building resiliency using a trauma-informed framework.
We work with more than 100 community organizations. You can see the extensive list on our website. If you’re one of our partners and would like to be featured, please contact Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications.