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July 2012Vol. 13, No. 6CW360: Secondary Trauma in Child Welfare

The spring 2012 issue of CW360° is dedicated to the topic of secondary trauma and the child welfare workforce. Twenty-four articles written by a wide variety of child welfare, medical, mental health, and other related professionals and researchers provide a comprehensive look at this relatively new and important concept.

Much research has been done on secondary trauma as it relates to emergency responders and mental health practitioners. However, with respect to the child welfare field, research in this area is lacking and has historically focused on turnover and burnout. Secondary traumatic stress (STS), often mistaken for burnout, can develop when a person empathizes with a traumatized individual. The article "Occupational Hazards of Work in Child Welfare: Direct Trauma, Secondary Trauma and Burnout," by Kimberly Shackelford, explains the symptoms of posttraumatic stress, secondary traumatic stress, and burnout.

Anita P. Barbee's article, "Social Support in the Workplace and Secondary Trauma," provides research on the role of workplace supports and worker retention. Special attention is paid to the role supervisors play in helping workers stave off the effects of secondary trauma. Other articles in this issue, which is organized into three sections—overview, practice, and perspectives and collaborations—discuss STS and the need for the child welfare workforce to address the issue at a systemic level.

CW360° is published annually by the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota's School of Social Work and is available on the Center's website: (2 MB)