A statewide introduction of trauma-informed care in a child welfare system
Most children in the care of the child welfare system have been exposed to multiple traumas in addition to the stressor of being removed from their home. Because the risk for mental health problems following exposure to trauma is high, a critical need exists to introduce trauma-informed practices into the child welfare system. The purpose of this study is to evaluate initial stages of a trauma-informed training program for the Arkansas Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). In Phase 1, 102 (75%) of DCFS area directors and supervisors participated in 10 regional, two-day workshops modeled after the National Child and Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) trauma-informed training for child welfare. Pre- and post-training evaluations demonstrated significant improvements in participants' knowledge of trauma-informed practices. A three-month follow-up with directors and supervisors indicated that use of trauma-informed practices increased significantly and that such changes were correlated with pre- versus post-training improvement in knowledge. Most participants were able to partially implement action steps established at the time of training; however, a number of barriers were cited as preventing full implementation, including time constraints, heavy caseloads, lack of staff, and limited resources. Results are discussed in light of plans under way for Phase II training for all DCFS front-line staff.
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