M. Elizabeth Ralston, PhD was the founding director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, Inc. (DNLCC) an accredited Children’s Advocacy Center located in Charleston, South Carolina and, since her retirement in 2012, has served as their Director Emeritus.
Dr. Ralston is on the clinical faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has served on the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) Board of Directors and the NCA mental health standard revision committee, and participated in the partnership between NCA and NCTSN to develop the CAC Director’s Guide to Mental Health services. She currently serves as the vice chair of the South Carolina Children’s Justice Act Task Force.
Dr. Ralston served as the project director when DNLCC was designated as a Level III Center 2008, and implemented a community-based learning collaborative in the Charleston area in the provision of evidence-supported treatment for children with sexual behavior problems funded through SAMSHA. She has served as the co-director of Project BEST since 2007. This project, funded by the Duke Endowment, is a partnership between MUSC and NCVRC, and has developed and utilized a community based learning collaborative coordinated through Children’s Advocacy Centers.
The goal of Project BEST is to increase the availability of evidence-based treatment to the children of South Carolina by training community mental health professionals in the delivery of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy with fidelity, and training community treatment brokers to do evidence-based treatment planning and case management.
In 2013, Project BEST was expanded to the South Carolina Trauma Practice Initiative, a partnership between the Duke Endowment, the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center, the National Crime Victims Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. The goal of SCTPI is to increase to 100% the number of professionals trained through PB by training the majority of clinicians, supervisors, and senior leaders within the public mental health system, as well as caseworkers, supervisors, and senior leaders within the child welfare system. This project is expected to significantly increase the availability of evidence-based practice to the children of South Carolina and also to increase the collaboration between mental health and child welfare professionals, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for abused/traumatized children and their families in South Carolina.