Lorena PicLorena Brennan Castro began as a SCAN intern and was recently hired to join the Child Advocacy Center team as a full-time Trauma Focused Treatment Therapist. Through a grant from Virginia Health Care Foundation, SCAN was able to hire Lorena to help expand behavioral health services to Spanish speaking families who have experienced sexual abuse or severe physical abuse (including human trafficking and witness to violence). As we honor Mental Health Awareness Month, we are particularly grateful for Lorena’s expertise and passion in helping children in our community.
How did you first get involved with SCAN?
I first joined SCAN in the second year of my MSW program at VCU. I was the social work intern for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 at the Child Advocacy Center, where I observed and learned from the amazing work of the Multidisciplinary Team and Trauma-Focused Treatment Team.
What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN? What is your current role?
Before joining SCAN I worked in the Richmond non-profit scene for several years supporting families through food access work and urban agriculture development in the city’s East End, Northside, and Southside as well as trauma-informed poverty relief efforts through a local chapter of the national organization, Circles USA. I’ve always loved working directly in my community and after learning more about the needs of families in Richmond, I knew I wanted to focus on mental health. My new role at SCAN is as the first Bilingual Child and Family Therapist at the Child Advocacy Center, where I’ll work with Spanish-speaking children and their caregivers. 
Is there anything you wish other people knew about SCAN?
I wish more people knew that our work supporting children has an amazing ripple effect on families and communities! When children feel safe and heard they can focus better in school and have stronger relationships with their family and friends. Healthier children leads to healthier communities.
What has been the best experience with SCAN so far?
Visiting The Circle Preschool during my time as a social work intern was an incredible experience. Our teachers use their trauma-informed skills and early childhood experience to respond to each child’s needs with so much care and attention.
What are any challenges you have faced in your work with SCAN?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly disruptive for so many people, but especially for our children in public schools. I’ve noticed that children with trauma-related experiences are struggling even more due to the uncertainty of COVID.
Do you have any goals or hopes for the next year with SCAN?
I would love to spread the word that the CAC has trauma-focused treatment services available for Spanish-speaking children and their caregivers! These are services that are not often available to non-English speakers and I will be focused on connecting with SCAN’s partner agencies to increase awareness.
Are you involved with any other community organizations, hobbies, or activities?
I recently joined the Richmond chapter of the Audobon Society and love receiving regular updates about the birds migrating back to the city this Spring. This summer I am looking forward to attending one of their meet-ups at a local park to birdwatch with other bird lovers.
What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I used to be an avid runner before an ankle injury slowed me down! I’ve ran several half-marathons and 5k’s and would love to train towards a full marathon one day.

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