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Resources to Support A Trauma-Informed Approach to Child and Family Service

Trauma-informed care understands and considers the pervasive nature of trauma and promotes environments of healing and recovery rather than practices and services that may inadvertently re-traumatize.

Trauma-informed care shifts the focus from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”
(Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center)

As part of the California Training Institute (CalTrin)’s Trauma-Informed Systems learning pillar, we have offered numerous trainings focused on the design and management of trauma-informed service systems and agencies. Several of these trainings have been presented by Lisa Conradi, PsyD, Executive Director at the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Dr. Conradi has significant experience in the field of child trauma and in supporting service systems to become more trauma-informed.

In this post, we highlight information Dr. Conradi shared in her trainings and additional resources to support a trauma-informed approach in your organization. Let’s get started….

What is trauma-informed care? Trauma-informed care understands and considers the pervasive nature of trauma and promotes environments of healing and recovery rather than practices and services that may inadvertently re-traumatize.

A trauma-informed approach involves understanding the widespread impact of trauma, recognizing trauma symptoms in both staff and care recipients, avoiding re-traumatization, and supporting paths to recovery. For a program, organization, or system to be trauma-informed, it is not enough to provide trauma-specific interventions. An organization or agency must incorporate trauma-informed principles in its culture, policies, procedures, and practices.

According to the Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center, a comprehensive approach to trauma-informed care must be adopted at both the clinical and organizational levels.

Understanding a Trauma-Informed Approach

A trauma-informed approach can be adapted to different settings, people served, and practitioners. There are six core principles that guide a trauma-informed approach in any setting, informing how an agency operates, delivers services, and empowers its staff and the people it serves:

  • Safety
  • Trustworthiness and Transparency
  • Peer Support
  • Collaboration and Mutuality
  • Empowerment
  • Cultural, Historical, and Gender Issue

Adopting a trauma-informed approach benefits children and families, staff, and the organization.

Creating a Trauma-Informed Agency

Dr. Conradi noted that creating a trauma-informed agency requires us to change how we work. Specific steps include:

  • Creating an organizational culture shift
  • Creating a safe environment for staff and clients
  • Addressing secondary traumatic stress
  • Implementing specific tasks within your scope

The idea of creating a trauma-informed organization may seem overwhelming—but do not fear! In this post, CalTrin highlights tools and resources available to guide your organization in becoming more trauma-informed.

Resources to Support a Trauma-Informed Approach

California Training Institute (CalTrin)

Hey, that’s us! CalTrin has hosted several trainings related to trauma-informed care in child- and family-serving systems. Access recordings and materials from prior trainings, and check out the calendar for future webinars and workshops! You can also explore our relevant resource collections.    

Note: You will need to log in to your CalTrin account to access the self-paced courses and select archived training materials. You can create a free account here.

Advancing California’s Trauma-Informed Systems (ACTS)

The Advancing California’s Trauma-Informed Systems (ACTS) supports child-serving systems in finding their unique path to advance innovative, trauma-informed change that will support the workforce and lead to improved outcomes for children and families. ACTS partners with organizations to provide in-depth resource sharing, training, and support to advance trauma-informed care. Get started with these resources from ACTS:

ACTS is based out of the Chadwick Center for Children and Families at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC)

Part of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, the Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care (ITTIC) provides research and training for organizations on trauma and trauma-informed care through evaluation, trauma-specific treatment interventions, technical assistance, and consultation.

Explore ITTIC’s collection of trauma-informed care resources, including:

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN)

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of frontline providers, family members, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S.

View the NCTSN’s extensive collection of trauma-informed care resources, including:

A featured resource is the Secondary Traumatic Stress Informed-Organizational Assessment (STSI-OA), a tool developed by members of the NCTSN and available through the University of Kentucky Center on Trauma and Children. The STSI-OA is an assessment tool that can be used by organizational representatives at any level to evaluate the degree to which their organization is STS-informed and able to respond to the impact of secondary traumatic stress in the workplace. This tool is available in English, Spanish, and French. Learn more and request a free download here.

Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center

The Trauma-Informed Care Implementation Resource Center site curates resources from experts in the field of trauma-informed care across the country and also draws largely from the experiences of health care organizations that participated in Advancing Trauma-Informed Care initiative

While the website is geared toward health care, many of these lessons from this website can be applied elsewhere, including in social services and education:

Trauma Transformed

Trauma Transformed advances trauma-informed and healing-centered system change through community- and cross-system collaboration that mitigates stress, trauma and oppression impacting communities in the Bay Area.

The Trauma Informed System Initiative (TIS) is an organizational change model developed by San Francisco Department of Public Health to create context that nurture and sustain trauma-informed practices. Explore the TIS model, leadership curriculum, resources, handouts, and more online here.

Additional Tools, Briefs, & Videos

Dr. Lisa Conradi: Trauma-Informed Leadership Self-Assessment

The Anna Institute: Creating Cultures of Trauma-Informed Care (CCTIC): A Self-Assessment and Planning Protocol

Brené Brown: Dare to Lead Hub and BRAVING Inventory

Frontiers in Psychology: Collective Trauma and the Social Construction of Meaning

re:WORK: How to Foster Psychological Safety on Your Teams

SocialWorkSynergy Blog: Trauma-Informed Care Infographic

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Practical Guide for Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach (PDF)

Trauma-Informed Oregon: Behaviors and Actions of Trauma-Informed Leaders

WATCH: Brené Brown on Empathy (2:53)

WATCH: Innovations in Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress in the Workplace (3:42)

WATCH: We All Need a Friend Like This

WATCH: What is Psychological Safety, and Why is it Important? (1:17)

WATCH: Trapped on an Escalator (2:04)

Recommended Readings

Throughout Dr. Conradi’s trainings, she has recommended several books related to trauma-informed leadership: