Child Trauma/Trauma Informed Care

June, 2019

Jason Lang, Ph.D.

Child Health Development Institute (CHDI)

  • Childhood trauma exposure is a public health concern

  • Most U.S. children are exposed to trauma or adverse childhood experiences (ACES), including violence, physical/sexual abuse, accidents, neglect, parent mental illness, etc.)

  • Most childhood trauma exposure is unreported; screening can improve early identification of children

  • Childhood trauma exposure is associated with problems with physical and mental health, suicide, substance abuse, school performance, and employment through adulthood

  • The costs for children maltreated in a single year are estimated to be $124 billion in future healthcare and social service costs

  • “Trauma-informed care” or a “trauma-informed approach” refers to strategies that a state, organization, system, or program can use to prevent, identify, and intervene early for children who may be exposed to trauma

Key Resources

  • This brief summarizes child trauma and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

  • Recent GAO report on Children Affected by Trauma 

  • This brief describing CT’s trauma-informed child welfare system

  • Trauma-informed care is relevant to, and has been applied in, all child-serving settings, including behavioral health, child welfare, pediatrics, juvenile justice, education, law enforcement, early care and education, and home visiting

  • Trauma-informed care strategies include:

    • Workforce development/staff training and support

    • Screening and assessment to improve early identification of children

    • Access to evidence-based trauma-focused prevention and intervention programs

    • Organizational and policy changes to reflect research about trauma and consumer input

  • Barriers to implementation of trauma-informed care strategies include:

    • Limited local/in-house expertise in childhood trauma

    • Limited funding to support training and implementation activities

    • High rates of staff turnover