The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.

Head Start: Measuring Trauma-Informed Care with the ARTIC Scale

April 20, 2021 / by John Engel, MA

Head Start agencies across the U.S. are increasingly focused on the prevalence of childhood adversity and trauma impacting the children and families they serve. Many agencies have leveraged Federal Head Start Quality Improvement funds (and continue to do so) to both implement and evaluate trauma-informed care (TIC) initiatives.

A growing number of those agencies have turned to the Attitudes Related to Trauma Informed Care (ARTIC) Scale--a psychometrically validated measure of staff attitudes toward trauma-informed care--to assess the impact of TIC training and coaching interventions.

Head Start programs in California, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin have benefited from the Online ARTIC Scale, and additional projects will soon launch in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Three of these projects are highlighted below.

Next Door, based in Milwaukee, WI, is currently engaged in a multi-year initiative to become more trauma-informed in their daily service to over 1,300 Early Head Start and Head Start children and their families. Next Door has strategically resourced their efforts by training staff in the Neurosequential Model through the Milwaukee-based SaintA agency and are using the Online ARTIC Scale to evaluate and monitor their progress. Next Door reported the Online ARTIC survey was user-friendly and easy to administer, resulting in a response rate greater than 95%. Purchase of the Online ARTIC was made using typical operating funds, including training and technical assistance dollars. Next Door President Tracey Sparrow shared:

“The ARTIC survey provided a foundation for Next Door to plan and implement our work focused on trauma informed care. Knowing where our staff is, in terms of their attitudes towards trauma, will ensure that we are addressing the key factors that will strengthen our orientation towards trauma informed practice.”

Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana (CAPWI) serves more than 368 early Head Start and Head Start children and their families, in six centers serving seven counties. CAPWI is engaging 56 staff in a two-year trauma-informed care (TIC) initiative that includes training offered by local consultants, paired with the Online ARTIC to assess the impact of their intervention. CAPWI administered the ARTIC Scale before the first round of training to collect baseline data and now, after engaging staff in training sessions, has just completed a second data collection. The ARTIC scores are being used by agency leadership to access the impact of training and to target resources in areas needing additional support. Additionally, the Online ARTIC individual results dashboard and resources support the agency’s focus on reflective supervision to bolster TIC staff strength. Child Development Services Specialist Kim Swinson shared:

“Our staff have found the Online ARTIC easy to use and we have also been able to easily adjust data collection to account for staff turnover. Staff ARTIC scores have supported training efforts to strengthen the use of empathy (instead of control) as a means for supporting children and their families and to better understand and support staff who struggle with their own histories of adversity and trauma, including vicarious trauma.”

Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action (MWVCA), based in Salem, Oregon, serves over 1,200 Early Head Start and Head Start children and their families. MWVCA has strategically resourced their efforts by training staff in the Trauma Smart Model, a program of Crittenton Children’s Center. For two years, MWVCA used the Paper/Pencil version of the ARTIC but lacked the internal resources to easily manage survey administration, data analysis, and reporting. After upgrading to the Online ARTIC in 2020, however, MWVCA found survey administration to be user-friendly and the results dashboard useful for assessing the impact of TIC training and coaching, monitoring of TIC progress, and overall TIC goal-setting. MWVCA Health & Wellness Manager Maarja Trujillo offered:

"When I first started my position, I was very excited to see that our program was putting a big emphasis on becoming more trauma-informed and the ARTIC scale was going to help us track the progress towards our TIC goals. Our staff have found the Online ARTIC is an easy, user-friendly way to complete the ARTIC scale and our leadership team has found the reports it provides to be a useful part of our planning process."

ARTIC Scale Resources for Head Start

Head Start agencies interested in learning more about the Online ARTIC can schedule a free demonstration by clicking on the link below.

Contact an ARTIC Sales Consultant

Tags: Measurement & Research, Head Start

John Engel, MA

Written by John Engel, MA

John Engel is a Program Coordinator for the Traumatic Stress Institute of the Klingberg Family Centers, where he serves as a trainer and consultant for client agencies adopting whole system change to trauma-informed care. John also facilitates strategic change initiatives and product development for TSI, including development and launch of the Online ARTIC Scale. Additionally, John has been piloting mindfulness in the workplace, including design and delivery of a national training webinar entitled Mindfulness in the Workplace: Practices for Sustaining Trauma-Informed Care, design and facilitation of a day-long virtual training event, Mindfulness: The Inner Work of Racial Healing and Trauma-Informed Care, and a Monthly RC Mindfulness pilot in 2021. Since 2011, John has written a monthly column, The Fatherhood Journey, for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, with a mission of promoting public and private conversations about fatherhood.