To respond to the specific needs of children exposed to violence, policies and procedures within organizations must incorporate knowledge about prevalence and impact of exposure to violence and trauma on children and youth. To improve responses to the needs of these families, organizations do not need to add components to services. Instead, all staff should be trained in the trauma-informed care approach to ensure services build trust, avoid re-traumatization, and are family-centered and address the needs of each family member.
Based on each system’s focus, funding source, requirements and outcomes, the basic components of trauma-informed care for children include:
- Integration of knowledge about exposure to violence into the agency mission, organizational/administrative processes, and service delivery.
- Revision of policies and procedures to ensure prevention of re-traumatization.
- Understanding that exposure to violence may be a defining experience that can shape the developmental process, including, attachment and cognitive, emotional, social and neurological development, as well as affect how children cope with future adverse experiences.
- Consideration that exposure to violence may result in psychological behaviors such as hyper-arousal, relational difficulties, irritability, and problems with self-regulation among others. Therefore, screening and assessment of history of exposure to violence is essential.
- Development of a collaborative relationship with families and other systems/agencies to help children heal and succeed.
- Emphasis on building resiliency, identifying/recognizing child strengths, and promoting social and emotional well-being to break the cycle of violence and facilitate healing.
To the right are specific systems, including child welfare, law enforcement and mental health, and the steps staff can take to make their organizations more trauma-informed.