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February 2012Vol. 13, No. 1The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was established by Congress in 2000 to improve treatment and services for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events and to increase access to improved trauma treatment and services throughout the country.

The NCTSN is a grant program funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It focuses on a variety of traumatized populations (e.g., infants, adolescents), types of trauma (e.g., child maltreatment, domestic violence), and service settings (e.g., child welfare agencies, schools, the court system). It is composed of three types of centers:

  • The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS), which serves as a coordinating body for the NCTSN, provides technical assistance to NCTSN grantees, and oversees resource development, training, and other education efforts
  • The Treatment and Services Adaptation Centers, which  provide expertise on trauma-related issues and support the development and adaptation of effective trauma-informed treatment and service approaches
  • The Community Treatment and Services Centers, which provide and evaluate services to children, adolescents, and families who have experienced traumatic events

The NCTSN website provides abundant resources about trauma-informed practice, including those pertinent to child welfare practice. Two recent products from the NCTSN Child Welfare Committee include:

The  NCCTS also manages the Learning Center for Child and Adolescent Trauma, which provides free online trainings, many of which can count toward continuing education credits for certain professionals. The Learning Center provides both self-guided trainings, such as courses on the Child Welfare Trauma Training Toolkit and on Psychological First Aid, and a speaker series, which includes webinars on topics such as therapeutic interventions for children in foster care, attachment issues for children who have experienced trauma, and what parents should know about child sexual abuse.

Additionally, the NCCTS coordinates year-long Learning Collaboratives, which emphasize the use of collective learning and experience to help agencies and organizations adopt and implement evidence-based, trauma-informed approaches. The NCTSN has developed more than a dozen Learning Collaboratives on a variety of topics, including child welfare and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Each Learning Collaborative consists of 8 to 10 teams, with each team being from a particular agency or organization and including different stakeholders (e.g., clinicians, supervisors, administrators, clients, alumni). To help facilitate the sharing of practice methods and other information, each Learning Collaborative meets face-to-face three times during the year and also has additional contact as needed. Participants also receive extensive training and other support from NCTSN. While participants generally are NCTSN grantees, grantees' partner organizations may participate, too.

For more information, visit the NCTSN website:

Many thanks to Malcolm Gordon of NCTSN for providing information for this article.