top menu

Trauma Informed Child Welfare Practice

  Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools    
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Children in Foster Care
    This NRCPFC information packet was authored by Jessica Hieger and edited by Lyn Ariyakulkan, MSW and Tracy Serdjenian, MSW.  The publication provides an overview of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children in foster care, presents relevant facts and statistics, and discusses policies and legislation pertaining to oversight and coordination of health care services for children in foster care.  A list of programs implementing trauma-informed services, as well as additional resources and websites are provided. (December 2012)
  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    
  • Trauma-Informed Practice with Children and Youth in the Child Welfare System 
    In this NRCPFC webcast, presenters discussed a growing area of focus in child welfare – trauma-informed practice and intervention. During this webcast, Dr. Glenn Saxe and Erika Tullberg from the NYU Child Study Center provided information about how trauma impacts children, families, and staff involved in the child welfare system, and offered concrete ways that foster parents, staff, agency leaders, and other stakeholders can help mitigate trauma’s impact on children, families, and the child welfare system overall. During this presentation, Dr. Saxe provided an overview of Trauma Systems Therapy, an evidence-informed, comprehensive, multi-pronged approach used by a growing number of child welfare providers that goes beyond a doctor and a child/youth in an office and takes into account a child/youth’s support system and home environment in addressing his or her trauma-related symptoms. The presenters shared information about resources that can support trauma-informed practice and intervention. (February 2013)
  • NRCPFC Webinar: Trauma-Informed Child Welfare 
    This NRCPFC teleconference/webinar featured Erika Tullberg, Administrative Director, ACS-NYU Children’s Trauma Institute, who addressed the issue of trauma as it relates to the child welfare system.  The presentation provided a definition of a trauma-informed child welfare system; discussed the impact of traumatic stress on children, parents, staff, and the system; provided information about resources available through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and shared ways in which trauma-informed practice is currently being implemented. (November 16, 2011)

  • NRCPFC Teleconference- Secondary Trauma: Building Resilience Among Child Welfare Staff
    In this NRCPFC teleconference/webinar, Erika Tullberg (Executive Director Clinical Systems and Support, New York City Administration for Children’s Services), Fernando Lorence (Child Protective Manager, New York City Administration for Children’s Services), and Phoebe Nesmith (Supervisor 11, Child Protective Division, New York City Administration for Children’s Services) addressed the issue of secondary trauma in child welfare staff and the necessity to build resiliency.  The presentation reviewed data on secondary traumatic stress of child welfare staff and reviewed interventions designed to increase staff resiliency and reduce burnout. (May 12, 2010)

*Many of these resources were developed previously by the National Resource Center for
Permanency and Family Connections (NRCPFC).

  Informational & Practice Publications, Resources, & Tools    
  • Rise Magazine, Issue #25: The Impact of Trauma on Parenting 
    This issue of Rise Magazine features stories written by parents about how trauma has impacted them and offers insight into child welfare policies and practices that either cause more pain or support them and their families in healing. The stories in Rise Magazine are written by and for parents affected by the child welfare system, with the mission of helping parents advocate for themselves and their children. (Fall 2013)
  • Women and Trauma -- Trauma Informed Approaches: Federal Activities and Initiatives 
    The Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma has released this report, developed with support from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA's) National Center for Trauma-Informed Care.  The report documents the scope and impact of violence and abuse on women and girls and highlights gender-responsive, trauma-informed approaches that more than three dozen federal agencies, departments, and offices have implemented.  It encourages other governmental and nongovernmental agencies to adopt a cross-sector, interagency, intersystem recognition of and response to trauma.  (September 2013)
  • Letter: Helping Victims of Childhood Trauma Heal and Recover 
    Three HHS agencies – Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – have come together to issue a letter to state directors of child welfare, Medicaid, and mental health authorities encouraging them to strengthen their efforts to address complex trauma among children and youth known to child welfare. This letter provides useful and actionable information about federal authority and funding streams, strategies for coordinating cross-system efforts, and good practices for integrating evidence-based screening, assessment, and interventions related to complex trauma. (July 2013)
  • Child Exposure to Trauma: Comparative Effectiveness of Interventions Addressing Maltreatment 
    Child maltreatment is a global public health problem. The prevalence of child maltreatment translates into a significant economic burden to society, cutting across many different service sectors including child welfare, health and mental care, special education, and criminal justice. This comparative effectiveness review (CER), focuses on parenting interventions, trauma focused treatments, and enhanced foster care approaches that address child exposure to maltreatment. It is the first in a two-part series focusing on clinical (psychosocial and/or pharmacological) interventions for children exposed to traumatic experiences. This review was carried out under the auspices of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Effective Health Care Program. The goal of this resource is two-fold: (1) to provide stakeholders with a synthesis of the best evidence in the field of child maltreatment and (2) to identify critical areas to address in future intervention research. (April 2013)
  • Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators 
    In an effort to improve services for children and families involved in the child welfare system, the Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project (CTISP), as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), has coordinated a groundbreaking national effort to create a new resource to help professionals understand the impact of trauma on these children and families.  This guide informs the reader about how trauma can affect children and families in all aspects of the child welfare system and gives practical implications for child welfare administrators in each chapter.  Experts in the field of child welfare, child trauma research, clinical practice, and policy worked together with the CTISP staff to create these guidelines. (2013)
  • Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice Toolkit 
    This toolkit, produced by the Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project (CTISP), is designed to provide guidance, support, and practical suggestions to assist in the creation of a more trauma-informed child welfare system.  It is comprised of the following five documents, which are available to download for free following required registration (2013):
    • Creating Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Systems: A Guide for Administrators, 2nd Edition
    • Desk Guide on Trauma-Informed Mental Health for Child Welfare
    • Desk Guide on Trauma-Informed Child Welfare for Mental Health Professionals
    • Guidelines for Applying a Trauma Lens to a Child Welfare Practice Model
    • Trauma System Readiness Tool
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Children Affected by Sexual Abuse or Trauma
    Published by the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a service of the Children’s Bureau, this issue highlights Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), an evidence-based treatment approach to helping children affected by sexual abuse or other traumatic events.  TF-CBT aims to reduce both negative emotional and behavioral responses following child traumatic, while also helping caregivers to effectively cope with their own emotional distress and develop skills that support their children.  The issue brief, written primarily for caseworkers and other professionals working with at-risk families, discusses the features, key components, target population, and effectiveness of TF-CBT.  It provides suggestions for workers and professionals referring children and caregivers to TF-CBT therapists, as well as considerations for child welfare agency administrators, and concludes with an array of additional resources. (August 2012)
  • Children’s Bureau Express Online Digest: Spotlight on Trauma-Informed Care 
    This issue of Children’s Bureau Express focuses on trauma-informed child welfare practice.  It includes information on the Integrating Trauma-Informed and Trauma-Focused Practice in Child Protective Service (CPS) Delivery grant cluster; spotlights publications on the effects of trauma on adolescent brain development, creating trauma-informed child welfare systems, trauma across the spectrum of experience, advancing practices on trauma intervention, and trauma and refugee families; and highlights resources and services of The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care. (February 2012)
  • Getting to Know the Unthought Known: Trauma, Patterns, and Very Young Children in Foster Care
    The traumatic experiences of very young children in foster care are discussed, and the neurological patterns that developed as a result of this trauma are explained in this article by Diane Kukulis, published in The Infant Crier (p. 9-12). The need for practitioners to explore these patterns to "be with" the young children and their families is emphasized and practitioners are urged to help caregivers and children to hold feelings that arise and to co-regulate with them. (2012)
  • Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Child Welfare Staff: A Practice Brief
    Developed by the ACS-NYU Children’s Trauma Institute, established by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center, this practice brief discusses secondary traumatic stress (STS) among child welfare staff.  It examines how STS is addressed in New York City, as well as throughout the nation, and concludes with recommendations for agencies to approach STS with their staff. (2012)
  • CW360: Secondary Trauma and the Child Welfare Workforce
    The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare has developed this edition of the CW360 on Secondary Trauma and the Child Welfare Workforce, in recognition of a major challenge faced by many child welfare professionals. CW360 takes a look at the topic from various perspectives, with an overview of the topic, implications for practice, and a review of perspectives and collaborations. (2012)
  • Trauma-Informed Care Emerging as Proven Treatment for Children, Adults with Behavioral, Mental Health Problems
    Children who are physically or sexually abused, or who go through other trauma-inducing experiences, can develop mental health disorders and related problems. Indeed, trauma can fundamentally affect how a young person grows and develops. Trauma-informed care is a treatment approach that explicitly acknowledges the role trauma plays in people’s lives. That approach is increasingly being developed and refined as a method of treatment by professionals working in medicine, mental health, education, foster care, juvenile justice, and other areas. 
    This brief article from Youth Law News, by Ta Lynn Mitchell, discusses: Exposure to Trauma; Trauma’s Effects; Trauma-Informed Care; Helping Native Youth; and Trauma-Informed Care in California, and Beyond. (2012)
  • Victimization and Trauma Experienced by Children and Youth: Implications for Legal Advocates
    This issue brief translates emerging research and program practice into action steps for dependency and de­linquency judges, attorneys, and legal advocates. The goal is to build their capacity to meet the needs of children and youth who are victimized and exposed to violence or other traumatic events. In this resource, developed in partnership with the Safe Start Center, ABA Center on Children and the Law, and Child and Family Policy Associates, you will find: information about the prevalence and impact of victimization and exposure to violence; practice tips for juvenile defenders, children's attorneys and GALs, judges, and CASAs; explanations of traumatic stress symptoms and trauma-related assessments and treatments; descriptions of promising local and state initiatives to address trauma; and, guidance on policy reforms and other considerations for trauma-informed advocacy. (2012)
  • Evidence-Based Treatments for Childhood Trauma 
    This volume of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter (VCPN), a publication by James Madison University that is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Social Services, focuses on childhood trauma and some available evidence-based treatments for children who have experienced trauma.  Evidence-based treatments discussed in this publication include: Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Continued Parent-Child Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CPC-CBT), Risk Reduction through Family Therapy (RRFT), and Culturally Modified Trauma-Focused Treatment (CM-TF). (Fall 2012)
  • Birth Parents with Trauma Histories and the Child Welfare System
    This series of four fact sheets from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) were put forth by the Birth Parent Subcommittee of the Child Welfare Committee regarding the serious consequences of trauma histories for birth parents, as well as the potential impact it can have on their children and families.
    • A Guide for Birth Parents 
      This guide is specifically for birth parents that may be involved with the child welfare system or have experienced trauma.  The guide defines trauma, discusses how trauma may affect parents and their parenting, provides suggestions for what parents can do if they have experienced trauma, and explains how therapy can help. (2012)
    • A Guide for Child Welfare Staff 
      Developed for child welfare professionals, this guide describes how trauma can affect parents, provides suggestions for using a trauma-informed approach when working with birth parents, and addresses secondary trauma in child welfare professionals. (2011)
    • A Guide for Judges and Attorneys 
      Aimed at judges and attorneys, this guide describes the signs of trauma, how trauma affects parents, secondary or vicarious traumatic stress in those working in family court, and explains how to use a trauma-informed approach working with birth parents. (2011)
    • A Guide for Resource Parents 
      This guide for resource parents discusses the effects of trauma on birth parents, describes how resource parents can work together with birth parents, and provides suggestions for what resource parents can do to protect themselves from secondary traumatic stress. (2011)
  • A Social Worker’s Tool Kit for Working with Immigrant Families – Healing the Damage: Trauma and Immigrant Families in the Child Welfare System
    Written by the Migration and Child Welfare National Network, this tool kit provides public child welfare and community-based agencies working with immigrant families with guidelines for integrating child welfare practice – from engagement to case closure – with trauma-informed care and trauma-specific services. In addition, the tool kit describes strategies to build an organization’s capacity to better respond to the needs of immigrant families exposed to child maltreatment, domestic and community violence, and other traumatic stressors. It responds to frequently asked questions illustrated by case examples and provides website links and other resources. Download the Executive Summary and tool kit. (2010)
  • The National Child Traumatic Stress Network Toolkits 
    The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers a variety of educational and training resources and products for professionals.  Toolkits and materials offered by NCTSN cover a variety of trauma areas:
  • Safe Start Center: Trauma-Informed Care Tip Sheets 
    The Safe Start Initiative is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.  The Safe Start Center website offers a variety of tools and resources, including the following trauma-informed care tip sheets:
  • SAMHSA Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events 
    This resource from the SAMHSA provides information for students, adults, families, school personnel, responders, and health professionals regarding coping with violence and traumatic events.
  • Trauma-Informed Care: Tips for Youth Workers 
    The National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth (NCFY) published this guide which emphasizes the importance of unique individual responses to trauma, discusses triggers, and highlights how youth workers can incorporate a trauma-informed approach in working with young people.
  • Understanding Child Traumatic Stress 
    In this brochure from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), child traumatic stress in young children, school-aged children, and adolescents is discussed.  Information on the development of trauma, responses to trauma, recovering from traumatic stress, and on the NCTSN are also provided.


  Research & Reports    
  • Using Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice to Improve Placement Stability: Breakthrough Series Collaborative 
    This report on a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) published by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), this report focused on developing and implementing trauma-informed child welfare practices that increase the probability that children who need out-of-home placement remain in a single, appropriate, and stable home whenever possible. The BSC launched in September 2010 with funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It included nine teams from around the country—consisting of administrators, supervisors, case workers, clinicians, a birth parent, a foster parent, and, on occasion, youth—who worked together to test, implement, and sustain trauma-informed strategies and practices that showed promise in improving placement stability. This report provides detailed information on the need for this work, the project background and overview, and key strategies and promising practices.  It also outlines challenges and lessons learned, provides overall recommendations for testing and implementing trauma-informed promising practices to improve placement stability, and describes opportunities for the future.  (2013)
  • IMPACT Special Edition – Culture and Trauma 
    This special edition issue of IMPACT, the quarterly newsletter of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), is devoted entirely to the relationship between culture and trauma.  It describes the incredible work being done across the Network by members with informed perspectives on the cultural dimensions of trauma at multiple levels: the individual, including both the client and practitioner; the organization or system; and the broader community.  While the issue highlights a wide spectrum of stories and topics, the common thread is appreciation of the intersection of culture and trauma and NCTSN’s commitment to embracing it. (Spring 2012)
  • Helping Children and Youth Who Have Experienced Traumatic Events 
    In this Short Report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), two of SAMHSA’s initiatives are highlighted– The Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program (Children’s Mental Health Initiative, or CMHI) and The Donald J. Cohen National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI).  The prevalence of exposure to traumatic events among participants in these two initiatives is discussed, as well as effects of trauma and available treatments for recovery. (May 2011)
  • Helping Children Cope with Violence and Trauma: A School-Based Program That Works
    Published by The RAND Corporation, this research brief discusses the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), an approach designed to help children traumatized by violence.  CBITS was developed at RAND in close collaboration with mental health clinicians at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).  The intervention consisted of ten group sessions designed for inner-city schools with a multicultural population, and was successfully implemented and delivered by school-based mental health clinicians.  CBITS was found to significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression in students exposed to violence. (2011)
  • Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition White Paper: Child Trauma as a Lens for the Public Sector 
    The Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition produced this report which discusses the impact of child trauma on child and adolescent brain development including: short-term and long-term effects of trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), disruption in brain development, three styles of developmental responses employed by traumatized youth, and prevalence rates and cost estimates of child trauma.  Additionally, the report explains clinical responses to trauma.  Systemic responses from both national and Illinois-based organizations are discussed, as well as systemic issues and suggestions for future steps. (December 2010)


  Training & Curricula    
  • The Resilience Alliance: Promoting Resilience and Reducing Secondary Trauma Among Child Welfare Staff
    The Resilience Alliance is a project undertaken by the Administration for Children’s Services-New York University Children’s Trauma Institute (ACS-NYU CTI) to mitigate the impact of secondary traumatic stress among child protective staff in New York City, and thereby increase staff resilience, optimism, self-care, social support and job satisfaction, and decrease stress reactivity, burnout and attrition. While this intervention was conducted with child protective staff, it is relevant to child welfare staff generally. This project is called the Resilience Alliance because its goal is to work together with child welfare staff to build their ability to protect themselves and their co-workers. This is not a one-directional training provided to staff, but rather an intervention that is done in partnership with child welfare staff at all levels, from the front line to the senior leadership of the agency. Download the Training Manual and Participant Handbook. (September 2011)
  Teleconferences, Webinars, Webcasts & Videos    
  • Children Whose Parents Have Experienced Childhood Trauma – Challenges, Obligations, and Reasonable Efforts for Reunification 
    In this forum recording from the Chapin Hall Child and Family Policy Forum, presenters discussed findings from a Chapin Hall report in which researchers identified a subset of parents involved with the child welfare system who have extensive childhood trauma experiences and face multiple challenges or service needs. These findings have implications for caseworker engagement and service interventions, and they also raise fundamental questions about our obligation and approaches to working with parents, protecting children, and promoting well-being. This forum also discussed changes to policies and practices in the child welfare, legal, and human services fields that may be necessary in order to improve the well-being of this group of children and their families. (May 2013)
  State Examples    
  • Connecticut:  
    Trauma-Informed Care 
    In light of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Connecticut Department of Children & Families (DCF) provides this resource with valuable information on trauma-informed care.  It includes an overview of child trauma, information on how trauma affects children and caregivers, the importance of trauma-informed care to DCF, effective treatments for child traumatic stress, essential elements of trauma-informed child welfare systems, guiding principles for trauma-informed child welfare practice, and additional resources and websites. (December 2012)
  • Florida:
    • Florida Department of Children and Families (DCS): Trauma-Informed Care
      This webpage from Florida DCS describes the importance of organizations implementing trauma-informed care, explains the concept of trauma-informed systems, and provides relevant websites and resources.

    • Trauma-Informed Care Overview 
      Created by the Gabriel Myers Workgroup, a special initiative of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCS), this Power Point Presentation provides an overview of trauma, explores the impact on child development and functioning, and presents effective prevention and treatment strategies and practices.  (March 2010)

  • Oklahoma:
    Practice and Policy Lecture Series: Trauma Informed Child Welfare 
    Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Planning, Research and Statistics and the University of Oklahoma Center for Public Management, this presentation features Lisa Conradi, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Chadwick Center for Children and Families in San Diego.  “Dr. Conradi will provide an overview of the essential elements of a trauma-informed child welfare system.  She will discuss how these essential elements have been applied at CW jurisdictions across the country, focusing specifically on a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) focused on using trauma-informed child welfare practice to improve foster care placement stability.  She will provide participants with concrete practice changes they can take home to their own jurisdictions” (September 13, 2012)
  • Virginia:
    VCPN: Evidence-based Treatments for Childhood Trauma 
    Volume 95 of the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter (VCPN) focuses on evidence-based treatments for childhood trauma. It provides information about specific evidence-based treatments, the impact of trauma on children, what child welfare workers can do to offer trauma-informed services, and resources. It includes a listing of questions to ask treatment providers, highlights State Practice Improvement Projects in North Carolina and South Carolina, and discusses INVEST for Children: A Community-Based Learning Collaborative in Virginia. (Fall 2012)



< Back to Top >

Last updated 8/18/14