Mimi Graham, director of Florida State’s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy, received the Joy Aukema Taps Children’s Advocate of the Year Award on May 7.
The award, sponsored by Legal Services of North Florida, is given annually to an individual who has shown leadership and compassion for children throughout LSNF’s regional service area. It is named for Taps, a senior attorney with the Office of the Attorney General in Tallahassee who died in 2005.
“Dr. Graham’s selfless nature and unwavering commitment to improving the lives of children makes her a stand-out not only here in Tallahassee, but throughout Florida,” said Gary K. Ostrander, Florida State’s vice president for Research. “Her work exemplifies the type of impact that FSU researchers are having on the community every day, and I congratulate her on this well deserved honor.
Graham was recognized for her efforts in starting an early intervention court in Leon County to promote healing for children struggling with dependency; her efforts to expand the Young Parents Program aimed at pregnant and parenting girls in delinquency in Leon County and Miami/Dade County; and her involvement with the Office of Court Improvement in helping to translate the science of attachment and early childhood for the courts.
“Much of the intergenerational abuse, drug addictions and mental health problems are the result of unhealed early trauma,” Graham said. “I really believe that we could transform our world if we healed early childhood traumas, and that early is better but it is never to late to heal.”
The “science of adversity,” according to Graham, provides a chance to rethink the role of the courts and to launch a new era of “Therapeutic Jurisprudence.”
“If we use the science and heal the early trauma, we can change the tragedy that brings families into the courts into an opportunity to heal, a chance to break the cycle of abuse and violence that we see all too often,” Graham said.
Judge Lynn Tepper of the 6th Judicial Circuit in Dade City, Fla., praised Graham.
“Having taught with Dr. Graham throughout the state for nearly three years, I can assure you she has been responsible for an incredible transformation of Florida’s court-involved families,” Tepper said. “Dr. Graham has succeeded in causing a paradigm shift in attitudes and approaches throughout the child welfare system.
“Florida is blessed to have such an insightful, effective educator as Dr. Mimi Graham,” Tepper said.