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National Child Traumatic Stress Network e-Bulletin March 2012

SPECIAL ISSUE OF Child Welfare on Child Traumatic Stress

How does child traumatic stress affect the children, families, staff members, and processes within child welfare systems? How do these systems create and improve trauma-informed strategies to support the well-being of their families and workers? These timely questions are the focus of Effectively Addressing the Impact of Child Traumatic Stress in Child Welfare, a Special Issue of Child Welfare journal just released by the Child Welfare League of America and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). The issue addresses a spectrum of topics relevant to trauma-informed child welfare practice, policy, and systems, including these key areas: trauma-informed prevention programs and innovations; forensic investigation; screening, assessment, and evaluation; evidence-based treatment and intervention; culturally responsive practice models; and secondary traumatic stress in the workforce.


We are pleased to announce that a consensus-derived definition of a Trauma-Informed Child-Service System is on the NCTSN website. We thank the Trauma-Informed Service Systems Working Group for leading the development of this definition over the past year. Our Network members and Affiliates have been creating trauma-informed systems for a long time, and now, thanks to the efforts of the collaborative work-group, we have a definition which captures the complexity and multiple facets of the process of creating a trauma-informed system. 
A trauma-informed child- and family-service system is one in which all parties involved recognize and respond to the impact of traumatic stress on those who have contact with the system including children, caregivers, and service providers. Programs and agencies within such a system infuse and sustain trauma awareness, knowledge, and skills into their organizational cultures, practices, and policies. They act in collaboration with all those who are involved with the child, using the best available science, to facilitate and support the recovery and resiliency of the child and family.
A service system with a trauma-informed perspective is one in which programs, agencies, and service providers: (1) routinely screen for trauma exposure and related symptoms; (2) use culturally appropriate evidence-based assessment and treatment for traumatic stress and associated mental health symptoms; (3) make resources available to children, families, and providers on trauma exposure, its impact, and treatment; (4) engage in efforts to strengthen the resilience and protective factors of children and families impacted by and vulnerable to trauma; (5) address parent and caregiver trauma and its impact on the family system; (6) emphasize continuity of care and collaboration across child-service systems; and (7) maintain an environment of care for staff that addresses, minimizes, and treats secondary traumatic stress, and that increases staff resilience.
Our hope is that this definition will assist us in our work to create systems that raise the standard of care and improve access to services for children, families, and communities impacted by trauma. Please check it out here


New on the NCTSN Learning Center

Optimizing Visitation for Young Traumatized Children and Their Parents/Caregivers
March 15, 2012 (9:00 a.m. PDT)
Presenters: Anna Smyke, PhD, Tulane University School of Medicine; Leslie Brown, LCSW, Children's Relief Nursery; Amy Sommer, MSW, Project Bright
Presenters will address the important role that visitation plays for young foster children and their caregivers and discuss ways to organize and improve the visit experience. Learn methods for transforming visitation from a frustrating to a therapeutic experience, including ways to manage children's behavior during and after the visit. 
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Military and Civilian Parnerships: Extending the Bridge to Meet the Short-and Long-Term Needs of Military Families and their Young Children
Demonstration of a Web-Enhanced Parenting Program for Military Families: After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools/ADAPT
March 27, 2012 (9:00 a.m. PDT)
Faculty: Abigail Gewirtz, PhD, LP, University of Minnesota, Ambit Network; Lt. Thad Shunkwiler, Minnesota Army National Guard, ADAPT
Faculty will provide a live demonstration of a web-based parenting program developed to support military parents in improving parenting skills throughout the deployment cycle.
Audio: 866-295-5950, Code 5318986#
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Organizational Secondary Traumatic Stress
March 30, 2012 (10:00 a.m. PDT)
Presenters: Leslie Ross, PsyD, Children's Institute; Fred Strieder, PhD, University of Maryland School of Social Work; Cynthia Vrabel, MD, Mental Health Services
Presenters will address the impact of Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) in organizational settings, including risk management and workforce development. Learn strategies to reduce the impact of STS in your organization via training, assessment, case-load management, self-care practices, and supervision.
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Noteworthy Resources

In collaboration with the Veteran Administration's National Center for PTSD, the Home Base Program is providing a free, 14-session, CME-certified educational series to assist clinicians in the diagnosis and treatment of the silent wounds of war in returning veterans and their families. This live, on-line, interactive educational series is led by nationally recognized experts in diagnosing and treating PTSD and TBI with traditional and complementary evidence-based therapies. The faculty will address the needs of military families and review how to recognize and treat emotional stress in spouses, parents, and children of veterans with PTSD or TBI. Sessions 5-8 specifically cover Family and Child Content: (a) Keeping military families emotionally strong: Couples therapy for PTSD; (b) Challenges facing family members when a veteran has PTSD; (c) Supporting resiliency in military connected children: The PACT Model; and (d) Impact of combat-related injury, illness, and death on military children and families.

Register >>

 Network members Charles Wilson, Lisa Conradi, and Erika Tullberg were among experts interviewed recently for the March Children's Mental Health eReview about how child welfare systems can implement trauma-informed practices and policies. This issue of eReview, published by the Center for Excellence in Children's Mental Health at the University of Minnesota, highlights the NCTSN's Essential Elements of Trauma-Informed Child Welfare Practice that provide the foundation for the interviews. 

 Read >>

Network members Ernestine C. Briggs, Johanna Greeson, Christopher Layne, John Fairbank, Angel Knoverek, and Robert Pynoos, in Trauma Exposure, Psychosocial Functioning, and Treatment Needs of Youth in Residential Care: Preliminary Findings from the NCTSN Core Data Set, Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma (Volume 5, Issue 1), discusses rates of trauma exposure and impairment. When compared to youth in nonresidential settingsyouth in residential settings reported both higher rates of trauma exposure and higher rates of impairment. While pre- and post-treatment rates of impairment significantly decreased in both groups, nearly a third of the youth in residential care continued to manifest some impairment. Implications for practice, policy, and research are discussed.

Coming Next Month


Military and Civilian Parnerships: Exending the Bridge to Meet the Short-and Long-Term Needs of Military Families and their Young Children
Overview of the Military Suicide Research Consortium's Efforts to Improve Assessment and Treatment of At-Risk Personnel and Veterans
April 3, 2012 (10:00 a.m. PDT)
Faculty: Peter Gutierrez, PhD, VA ECHCS/MIRECC
Presenter will give an overview of the Military Suicide Research Consortium, describe the application of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicide as it applies to members of the military, and present recommendations on screening and assessment from the Army's suicide work group. 
Audio: 866-295-5950, Code 5318986#
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Zero to Six Child Welfare Speaker Series

Addressing Transition Issues for Young Foster Children
April 5, 2012 (9:00 a.m. PDT)
Presenters: Anna Smyke, PhD, Tulane University School of Medicine; Devi Miron, PhD, Tulane University Hospital
Presenters will discuss the many transitions experienced by young traumatized children in the child welfare system and the challenges that they pose for young children. Whether responding to the transition from the biological parents' home to a foster home, from foster home to foster home, or the changes brought on by reunification, those working with young children in the child welfare system will benefit from gaining an understanding of the many effects of these transitions as well as methods for appropriate facilitation of transitions.

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Screening and Assessment for Trauma in the Child Welfare Setting Speaker Series
An Overview 
April 26, 2012 (9:00 a.m. PDT)
Presenters: James Henry, PhD, Western Michigan University; Cassandra Kisiel, PhD, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine; Lisa Conradi, PsyD, Chadwick Center for Children and Families
The first in a series of five presentations on Screening and Assessment for Trauma in the Child Welfare Setting, presenters will describe the prevalence and impact of trauma on children in the child welfare system and the rationale for trauma screening and assessment. They will define screening and assessment, exploring the potential overlap and confusion in the use of these terms, in an effort to create a common language for the discussion. They will describe some common tools for trauma screening and assessment and introduce child-welfare specific measures that will be detailed in a future presentation. 
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