Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-Informed Care

Are you familiar with the signs of childhood trauma, or the impact it can have on lifelong learning, engaging and even health? What is the role of a 21st CCLC practitioner in the life of a child experiencing trauma? This Click & Go offers valuable background, insights and strategies for helping those students who need your compassion the most.


After completing this Click & Go, learners will be able to do the following:

  • Define trauma.
  • Differentiate and discuss the connections between positive stress, tolerable stress, toxic stress and trauma.
  • Explain the importance of understanding the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study in order to better inform educators about children experiencing trauma.
  • Identify the biological, psychological, emotional and cognitive effects trauma can have on a child.
  • Use educational strategies and pedagogical tools to address the needs of children exposed to trauma.

Zip Link (76 MB) Click on the link to download the resources for this Click & Go!


Mini-Lesson: An Introduction to Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-Informed Strategies for Elementary and Adolescent Students

This podcast touches on behaviors that could be consistent with childhood trauma, and discusses a few strategies you can adopt to help these children overcome their burdens. [Download Transcript]

Upstairs/Downstairs Learning: A Brief Neuroscience Lesson Behind Student Trauma

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in the mind of a student doing things you might see as unpredictable, confrontational or even out of control? As educators, we’re in a critical position to support students who have faced distressing or disturbing events. This includes exploring positive and practical educational strategies to create a psychologically safe environment for the students we serve. This podcast highlights "The Whole-Brain Child" by Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson. [Download Transcript]

What does it mean to be a mandated reporter?

In your work, you’ve heard the term ‘mandated reporter’ all the time, but what does it really mean? In this podcast we discuss what it means to be a mandated reporter. [Download Transcript]

Here are several tools to help leaders implement program strategies. Note: Each of the resources are customizable to fit the needs of your program.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Questionnaire

This PDF is the original questionnaire for determining a person's ACE score as developed for the groundbreaking Kaiser/Felitti study from the 1990s. LINK

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study - U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

This website provides detailed information and research regarding the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on communities as well as identification and prevention strategies for students of all ages. LINK

Childhood Trauma Toolkit for Educators produced by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Information regarding how to effectively educate children of trauma, including the psychological and behavioral impacts across different age groups. LINK

Graphic Organizers to Help Kids With Writing

This webpage provides graphic organizers that educators can use with students who are struggling with the writing process. LINK

How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime (TED Talk)

Pediatrician Dr. Nadine Burke Harris explains how abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences can affect the development of the brain and places children at high risk in adulthood for severe health diseases. LINK

The Great and Powerful Graphic Organizer

This podcast explains the value of graphic organizers and the various ways they can be used effectively. LINK

Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect - Child Welfare Information Gateway

A legal resource for understanding obligations of reporting suspected abuse or neglect. LINK

Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma: Tips for Parents and Educators - National Association of School Psychologists

The National Association of School Psychologists offers tips for supporting students who are dealing with trauma. This webpage identifies trauma risk factors and warning signs and shares ideas about what school-based professionals and other adults can do. LINK

This can be very difficult to establish, which is why a holistic, comprehensive approach is called for. Schools should have trauma teams or multidisciplinary teams to gather information from the educators involved with the student, then evaluate and assess the information provided to determine what kind of supports a child needs.

This is a certainly a delicate but important balance. One reference point is to consider how we are shifting social norms around the topic of ACEs to abandon the question of “what’s wrong with you?” to instead adopt “what happened to you.” It seems counter-intuitive, yet children and adults can feel empowered to become their new, best selves when they are exonerated from past mistakes that are the direct result of trauma. While you are not in a position to be treating these students, you are in a position to show them that you see them fully and that their behavior does not define them in your eyes or in your heart. Resilience is a tool that will be useful to all of your students, whether or not they are touched by trauma. At the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, you can read more about helping students build resilience and the self-confidence to show the world that inner, best self that will result.    

Educators in a 21st CCLC environment should view trauma as a special need, which means it will vary from student to student. Ensure access to psychological or other relevant services. Be cognizant of mandatory reporting procedures. The Y4Y materials addressing trauma-informed care lay out examples of learning disabilities that may result from toxic stress. Accommodations for those disabilities, delays or impairments can be addressed just as they would be in a child experiencing academic challenges for more organic reasons. Taking your students’ problems home with you and bearing an emotional burden for them is NOT your responsibility, difficult as that separation may be to make.

First, contact local colleges and universities to see if they have any online resources available. They may also be willing to provide professional development services or materials. Second, contact your local domestic violence agencies and/or child advocacy centers. They can sometimes support you in providing training for teachers, and may be connected with other local community agencies that can support trauma-informed care. Lastly, connecting with other local schools or districts about where they have found information to support professional development on the topic of helping children of trauma could be productive. 

Always bear in mind the sensitivity of this subject, and the importance of proceeding delicately in the interest of the safety of your students. That said, you can expand the broad strokes of your existing family engagement tools to help you better support children of trauma. A family survey at the start of your program could include a carefully worded question about known traumatic experiences. Family nights could be provided wherein learning strategies, homework support and emotional strategies could be discussed. This type of inclusive, Universal Design Approach would be beneficial to all families while singling out none. Finally, in circumstances where you are confident that families will be allies and not culprits, such as a child traumatized by excessive bullying at school, create a plan together to support this student using consistent language and strategies.

Communication is always key. Traditional means of communication, such as communication books that travel with the student, will be inappropriate if a child is known or suspected to be experiencing current trauma or recovering from past events. That said, sharing impressions and strategies with the student’s school-day teacher will be imperative. Send an email offering multiple possible times to reach you by phone so that you can establish a plan with him/her. Chances are, they share your concerns and are eager to work as a team.

Adult survivors of trauma have the potential to be the very best advocates for children who are suffering, but it is likely that a key to their own resilience is keeping traumatic experiences tucked quietly away. In your program’s staff development around trauma-informed care, proactively advise all staff that increasing their awareness for their students’ sake could bring such experiences to the surface. Be sure they understand the importance of maintaining their physical AND mental wellbeing, and that as an employer you will support all forms of good health. Strike a balance between de-stigmatizing childhood trauma by welcoming sharing while respecting the privacy of those who prefer not to.