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What is Trauma Informed Care?

Did you know that more than 60% of all children under 16 experience some sort of trauma? And that number is even higher with children from 0-5 years old? This information was provided from the American Psychological Association. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study has shown that the more traumatic experiences a person has, there is a higher risk for suicide, depression, and substance abuse during their lifetime.

This post will explore what trauma is and how trauma-induced care can benefit a child, their parents and the child’s support system.

What is Trauma?

According to NiCole Bartlett, Certified Trauma Specialist and Director of Trauma for Children’s Advantage, trauma is an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening. Trauma has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.

Trauma and its impact is based on a person’s perception of the trauma and their resilience. Therefore, not everyone will react the same given the same set of circumstances. Examples of traumatic events can include physical and sexual abuse, bullying, and death of a caregiver.

What are Signs of Trauma?

Often, a child often does not have the physical, mental or emotional maturity to tell a parent what is wrong – even when they are in their teenage years.

Some signs of trauma include:

  • Disturbed sleeping

  • Heightened aggression

  • Poor social interaction skills

  • Academic struggles

  • Anger and irritability

  • Withdrawal

  • Engagement in risk taking behaviors

It has been shown that children who do not have the tools to address this sort of trauma when it happens are left later in life with difficulty in establishing fulfilling relationships, holding steady jobs and/or becoming productive members of society.

What is Trauma-Informed Care?

In a nutshell, Trauma-Informed Care encompasses a variety of approaches to working with children exposed to short- and long-term traumatic events. An example of a short-term event might be a sudden death of a parent while a long-term situation could be ongoing domestic violence.

Research suggests that there are considerable benefits associated with trauma-informed care for both the child and their family. The key is for the family and child’s support team to recognize and address the signs and symptoms associated with trauma.

Trauma-Informed Care helps a child:

  • Cope with trauma triggers

  • Establish and maintain predictable routines and

  • Use behavior management strategies

Overall, the child needs to feel respected, informed and hopeful regarding their own recovery.

Who is Involved in Trauma-Informed Care?

The short answer is everyone involved in a child’s life, including but not limited to:

  • Caregivers

  • Educators

  • Medical Staff

  • Judges

  • Child Welfare Workers

  • Juvenile Justice Workers and

  • First Responders

Where Does a Trauma-Induced Child Go?

In Portage County, a child who experiences trauma is often referred to Children’s Advantage. Again, NiCole Barlett speaking about their process to help children 0-18 years of age:

“Children’s Advantage has a trauma clinic to help families heal from many forms of trauma, but the prevalent cases involve abuse and neglect.

“Our clinic receives referrals directly from several county support services such as the Children’s Advocacy Center, who conduct forensic interviews and provide advocacy to children who have disclosed sexual abuse.

“Once we receive a referral, the family will meet with myself or any of our trauma certified and informed staff to complete a diagnostic assessment, as well as, a trauma evaluation.From that eval, it is determined if the child and family would benefit from trauma specific interventions.”

Children’s Advantage Provides Trauma-Informed Care

The trauma clinic at Children’s Advantage has been in operation since 2012, serving the needs of Portage County. As a partner of the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Portage County, they are instrumental in helping the trauma-stricken youth of our area.

For more information, call them at 330.296.5552.

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