The International Center to Heal Our Children: About Us
Vision and Mission
The vision of the International Center to Heal Our Children (ICHOC) is to foster, promote and maintain the emotional health of children who are traumatized psychologically by acts of violence, disasters, or terrorism.
Our mission is to offer guidance, resources and technical support that are culturally competent and family-centered, to professionals and parents as they work together toward building healthy minds and futures for our children.
With the establishment of the ICHOC, Children's National Medical Center seeks to educate and empower communities with the tools needed to identify and treat the symptoms of trauma. Staffed by a team of internationally trained pediatric mental health and public health experts, the ICHOC offers resources to professionals and parents as they work together toward helping children heal.
The ICHOC programs and resources are intended to be used by the multidisciplinary range of providers who come into direct and indirect contact with children and whom can benefit from gaining knowledge and skills to better support children during and after stressful times. The target audience includes:
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- Health and mental health providers, and first responders.
- Teachers, childcare providers, and school administrators.
- Minority, military, and international communities vulnerable to sometimes-unique traumatic events, such as war and natural disasters.
- Regional, national, federal and professional organizations that play a role in developing and maintaining policies that affect the care children receive.
- Families and primary caregivers who are the constant source of support for children.
Immediately following the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the ICHOC staff responded to the needs of children and families in the Washington, DC region. Crisis response, outreach and educational efforts were provided to schools, communities, and families throughout the region. The ICHOC staff recognized that, while the region and the nation would need help recovering and healing from these terrorist attacks for many years, it was also important to prepare families, schools, and professionals for new traumatic events which might include additional terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and community violence.
Since 2001, the ICHOC has continued to focus on training professionals and parents to better understand child and adolescent stress responses and resiliency-building strategies to use with children so that they can better cope and heal from traumatic events. The ICHOC has reached out to communities through collaborative efforts, and currently participates in numerous regional, national and international coalitions, task forces, and committees dedicated to these issues. Currently, the ICHOC is bringing its programs and resources to new national and international audiences through several innovative training and outreach programs.
The ICHOC values the importance of outcomes-based research to ensure efficacy of products and training developed. All aspects of the ICHOC continue to be evaluated to determine effectiveness. Evaluation activities include follow-up studies with workshop attendees to assess retention of training material as well as learn about how attendees have used the training.
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Executive Director: Paramjit Toor Joshi, MD
The International Center to Heal Our Children is led through the expertise of Paramjit Joshi, MD, The Endowed Professor & Chair of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at CNMC and Professor of Psychiatry, Behavioral Sciences & Pediatrics at George Washington University. Dr. Joshi is an internationally recognized expert in the area of pediatric disaster psychiatry and the psychosocial effects of war and trauma on children. Through her leadership, CNMC responded to the mental health needs of the pediatric population in the Washington DC region when the Pentagon was attacked on September 11, 2001. Dr. Joshi has worked internationally focusing on children impacted by trauma, disasters, and war, including in the countries of India, Sri Lanka, China, The Gambia, Eritrea, Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. Her expertise continues to be nationally recognized by the media and her colleagues in the medical field.
Dr. Joshi is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and President of the Society of Professors of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2006-2008). She is a recipient of the APA’s Bruno Lima award for outstanding contributions in the care and understanding of disaster psychiatry. In addition she has been honored by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) by awarding her the Annual Exemplary Psychiatrist Award for her contributions to a greater understanding of brain disorders and mental illness. She has taught and published extensively on the issues of childhood trauma, depression and bipolar disorder.
Dr. Joshi provides general medical oversight to the program and guidance on the mental health core content. Dr. Joshi is active in the development of ICHOC curricula and products, as well as serving as one of the core instructors for ICHOC training regionally and nationally.
Program Manager: Abby Ralph
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The ICHOC thanks the many individuals, corporations, foundations, and state and federal agencies for their continued contributions and grants. The ICHOC would like to especially recognize the following supporters:
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- Stephen A. and Diana L. Goldberg
- Child Health Center Board Foundation
- Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation
- American Legion Child Welfare Foundation
- ChevronTexaco Foundation
- The N.E.W. Corporation
- Toys 'R US
- Colonial Parking, Inc
- D.C. Department of Mental Health