Facebook Pixel The GIFT Project | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content
The Gift Project

The Gift Project

GIFT Infographic

Download/Print Graphic


Heather Webb

Heather Webb | LCSW


Heather Webb is the Clinical Director at the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center where she also provides specialized trauma services to children and adults who have been victims of crime. She has over a decade of experience in providing services for children and families in crisis and who have been involved with the child welfare system. Heather also works closely with the Administrative Office of the Courts through the Citizens Foster Care Review Board to provide recommendations to family court judges for children in foster care, education to volunteers, and training to community partners regarding the impact of trauma on children and their caregivers.


Bibiana Parra | LCSW


Bibiana Parra is a therapist at the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center where she provides specialized trauma services to children and adults who have been victims of crime. Bibiana has several years of experience in providing services for children and families, in both Spanish and English.

Place Holder

Matt Woodward | Ph.D.


Dr. Matt Woodward is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University in the Department of Psychological Sciences. Dr. Woodward is a clinical psychologist with specialized focus in the area of trauma and posttraumatic stress disorders. Dr. Woodward completed his doctoral internship at the Medical University of South Carolina as an intern in the traumatic stress track. Dr. Woodward has worked with a variety of traumatized populations, including survivors of crime, childhood abuse victims, veterans, and motor vehicle accident survivors. Dr. Woodward’s research focuses on understanding the psychological impact of trauma and helping survivors recover from mental health difficulties related to traumatic stress.

Place Holder

Austin Griffiths | Ph.D.


Dr. Austin Griffiths is an Assistant Professor at Western Kentucky University and the Director of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research.  He previously worked for the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services in child protective services, where he assisted many families experiencing trauma, separation, and loss. Dr. Griffiths’ current research is focused on child welfare practice, training, and workforce development.


Recently released Children’s Bureau data identifies Kentucky as having the highest rate of child maltreatment in the United States. Alternative approaches addressing parental trauma are needed to address this growing epidemic in Kentucky as the child welfare system continues to be inundated with ever increasing reports of child maltreatment. Given the complex and cyclical nature of child maltreatment, it is important to recognize that many parents often have their own significant histories of abuse, neglect, and other adverse experiences. A deficit in adequate trauma-focused treatment resources for adults poses an increased risk of maltreatment to children. Implementation of evidence-based mental health services, directly addressing prior trauma, such as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, shows promise in increasing stability and improving outcomes for parents, children, and families. However, many parents in Kentucky do not receive evidence-based services for trauma. 

This project aims to address this gap through a multidisciplinary collaboration between the Departments of Social Work and Psychological Sciences at Western Kentucky University and the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center. The project is one of the first efforts undertaken by the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research (CCWEAR) that is focused on “positively impacting Kentucky’s children and families.” This project combines the skillset and resources of social workers and clinical psychologists in an effort to provide evidence-based group therapy for female parents with their own significant trauma histories whose children have recently experienced abuse or maltreatment.  The project is being led by Heather Webb, LCSW, Austin Griffiths, Ph.D., and Matt Woodward, Ph.D. with the assistance of undergraduate and graduate students at Western Kentucky University, in addition to staff clinicians from BRACAC. Treatment is focused on helping parents with children who have experienced maltreatment overcome their own mental health difficulties tied to trauma.

Treatment will utilize a highly effective evidence-based intervention, wherein approximately 60 female parents with symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder will participate in 12 weekly group therapy sessions. Treatment is free, and free childcare will be provided during the sessions. Treatment is provided by trained mental health professionals and sessions are held at the Barren River Area Child Advocacy Center in Bowling Green, KY. A variety of outcomes will be assessed, including PTSD symptoms, depression, substance use, parenting stress, parenting attitudes, and social support.

Treatment is for female parents whose child has had a reported incident of abuse or maltreatment within the past 2 years. Parents who perpetrated physical or sexual abuse against their child are not eligible for the group. If you know of a female parent whom you think may benefit from this group, we strongly encourage you to consider contacting Heather Webb at h.webb@bracac.org to schedule an in-person evaluation to determine appropriateness for the group.


Find us on Social Media | @WKUChildWelfare

 twitter   instagram   facebook

Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 4/20/20