In recent years, trauma-informed care has become the standard of care in behavioral health, residential treatment, healthcare and K-12 school systems. Now early childhood programs are increasingly becoming trauma-informed in their work with young children and families. As with trauma-informed care in general, there is so much information available on the internet that it can be difficult knowing where to start.
Fortunately, The Administration for Children & Families (ACF) has developed the Trauma Toolkit: Resources Specific to Early Childhood Programs. This excellent (though slightly dated) 2015 resource is organized around a host of excellent questions. A sample, along with additional resources offered by the Traumatic Stress Institute, are highlighted below.
What do we mean by trauma-informed services and why is such an approach important?
The ACF toolkit links to a useful issue brief Trauma Informed Care: Perspectives and Resources, which answers this question. Additionally, the brief identifies three trauma-informed care models that early childhood agencies can adopt, including Risking Connection, which is the central curriculum of the Whole-System Change Model offered by the Traumatic Stress Institute.
We’ve begun working on these issues, but are trying to decide what to tackle next. How can I figure out my next steps?
The ACF toolkit links to a brief titled Services for Families of Infants and Toddlers Experiencing Trauma that includes resources on promising interventions and tips for creating trauma-informed service delivery systems. Additionally, for those seeking a resource to help think about selecting an intervention partner, the Traumatic Stress Institute offers a free guide titled the Evaluating Trauma-Informed Care Training and Consulting Services.
Where can I learn more about evidence-based and promising interventions to address the effects of trauma?
The ACF toolkit links to The California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse (CEBC), a nationally recognized registry of evidence-based practices and measurement tools. The ARTIC (Attitudes Related to Trauma-Informed Care) Scale, which measures professional and paraprofessional attitudes towards trauma-informed care was recently approved for inclusion on the CEBC (to be listed in Spring 2021). The ARTIC can be used to assess how trauma-informed an organization is, either as a baseline measure or for pre-post trauma-informed program evaluation. Additionally, the Traumatic Stress Institute offers a free Measuring Trauma-Informed Care Series, a useful tool for planning and implementing trauma-informed program evaluation.
Whether your early childhood program is just beginning or you are ready to take the next step, these resources are sure to help you navigate your trauma-informed care journey.