Services for Families of Infants and Toddlers Experiencing Trauma: A Research-to-Practice Brief

Publication Date: March 27, 2015


Research documents the high rate of exposure to trauma among infants and toddlers, particularly children living in high-poverty communities.  Beginning life in the context of trauma places infants and toddlers on a compromised developmental path.  This brief summarizes what is known about the impact of trauma on infants and toddlers, and the intervention strategies that could potentially protect them from the adverse consequences of traumatic experiences. Interventions that are highlighted support parents to provide the stable and nurturing caregiving that is responsive to the child’s general developmental needs and that promotes children’s sense of safety and security. Such interventions may reduce or provide a buffer against infants’ traumatic experiences. Finally, the brief discusses how child care, Early Head Start, home visitation, and child welfare can become trauma-informed infant/toddler service delivery systems. This brief was written by Brenda Jones Harden, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland. Dr. Harden is a member of the Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers, a consortium of leading researchers studying the first three years of life.

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