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Trauma-Informed Care: What and Why


Childhood trauma is common. More than two thirds of children in the United States experience a traumatic event or circumstances—such as abuse or neglect, death of a loved one, or community violence—by the time they turn 16. Young children in particular are disproportionately exposed to traumatic events and circumstances.

Children exposed to trauma may display heightened aggression, impulsivity, or poor social skills. They often struggle academically and engage in risk-taking behavior.

Trauma-informed care (TIC) encompasses a variety of approaches to working with children exposed to traumatic events or conditions. Research suggests that TIC is associated with considerable benefits for children and their families, including reductions in children’s behavior problems and stress.

A research review by Child Trends suggests that when parents, service providers, and other caregivers use trauma-sensitive approaches:

  1. Children improve their ability to cope with trauma “triggers", their self- regulation skills, and their ability to maintain predictable routines.
  2. A shared understanding is created of the child’s unique experience with trauma.
  3. The approach to care is more consistent with the best available evidence on how to promote resilience.
  4. Adults use more effective strategies to cope with their own responses to trauma.

Excerpted with permission from 5 Ways Trauma-Informed Care Supports Children’s Development, Child Trends, 2016.


Behavior Early Childhood Emotional Disability Mental Health Parent/Family Social/Emotional