Children who are exposed to traumatic life events are at significant risk for developing serious and long-lasting problems across multiple areas of development.,,, However, children are far more likely to exhibit resilience to childhood trauma when child-serving programs, institutions, and service systems understand the impact of childhood trauma, share common ways to talk and think about trauma, and thoroughly integrate effective practices and policies to address it—an approach often referred to as trauma-informed care (TIC).
TIC is not the sole responsibility or purview of mental health professionals. While evidence-based trauma treatment can play a significant role in the healing process for children who need it, there are many other ways to implement TIC. In fact, every program and service system that touches the lives of children can play an important role.
This brief summarizes current research and promising practices for implementing TIC to support the well-being of children exposed to trauma and help them reach their full potential. The brief begins with an overview of the nature, prevalence, and impact of childhood trauma, followed by a discussion of related risk factors associated with poor child outcomes and protective factors that support resilience. In addition, we present a framework for understanding and implementing trauma-informed care in programs and service systems for children and their families.
Trauma-informed programs, institutions, and service systems are critical to promoting and fostering resilience in all children, and particularly those who have experienced trauma. TIC requires comprehensive, multi-pronged support from adults in all aspects of children’s lives. It includes increasing adults’ knowledge of childhood trauma and helping them recognize the symptoms, as well as giving them the resources to support and refer children who have experienced trauma to appropriate services. Additionally, as programs make their services more trauma-informed, it is important that they promote self-care to prevent or address secondary trauma among adults working with children who have experienced trauma