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April 2013Vol. 14, No. 3Evaluating Trauma-Informed Care Training

Research shows that children who suffer abuse or neglect are more likely to be exposed to other trauma-inducing situations, such as domestic violence or parental substance abuse. Additionally, children receiving child welfare services may experience further trauma if they are removed from the home, live in multiple out-of-home settings, transfer to new schools, or are forced to separate from their existing social networks. These findings suggest the need for child welfare agencies to develop trauma-informed practices and to train workers in these practices. A recent study in the Child and Youth Services Review evaluated such a training program for promoting trauma-informed practices among child welfare workers. 

The study looked at statewide implementation feasibility, as well as the effects the program had on participants' relevant knowledge, attitude, and behaviors. The researchers tested a training curriculum developed by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The program was designed to:

  • Increase awareness among child welfare workers of the effects that trauma has on children
  • Promote evidence-based screenings, assessments, and treatments for children exposed to trauma
  • Promote coordinated care with other service agencies to minimize placement disruptions that might increase the likelihood of further trauma

The participants were 102 child welfare area directors and supervisors from the Arkansas Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) who participated in 2-day training sessions. Participants were surveyed on their knowledge and current implementation of trauma-informed practices at three points in time: prior to training, immediately following the training, and 3 months after the training.

Results indicated that participant knowledge of trauma-informed practices increased significantly immediately after the training. At the 3-month follow-up, participants reported increased use of trauma-informed practices, and these changes were significantly correlated with improvement in knowledge. The majority of participants were able to partially implement action steps taught in the training; however, time constraints, heavy caseloads, lack of staff, and limited resources were listed as barriers to full implementation.

"A Statewide Introduction of Trauma-Informed Care in a Child Welfare System," by Teresa Kramer, Benjamin Sigel, Nikki Conners-Burrow, Patricia Savary, and Ashley Tempel, was published in the Children and Youth Services Review, 35, and is available for purchase: