The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines trauma as “Events or circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening which result in adverse effects on the individuals functioning and well-being.” The effects of trauma are physically as well as emotionally damaging and often long lasting. Through the large Adverse Childhood Experiences Study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente (1995-1997), investigators learned that persons exposed to traumatic experiences in childhood were at greater risk of chronic health conditions and health risk behaviors.

For more information on Adverse Childhood Experiences, go to this website: ACES Too High.

Trauma informed care requires that service systems have an awareness of the effects of trauma on individual lives. Developing trauma informed care approaches to the child serving system is an expectation of all System of Care communities in Virginia. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network endorses the following seven practices for organizations to be trauma informed: (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.

To access the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, go to this website:The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.

To access the Virginia Child Traumatic Stress Network websites, click on this file: Virginia Trauma Informed Community Networks