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.

Trauma-Informed Resources for Early Childhood Programs

March 10, 2021 / by John Engel, MA

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.

Learn More About the Online ARTIC


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.