Resources Specific to Early Childhood Programs

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how are they different from trauma experienced at other times during the life course?

  • The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development is a brief and overview video that describes how persistent stress in the early years changes brain architecture, and has long term health implications.
  • This video resource and accompanying text describes how early childhood mental health is a crucial domain of development. Practitioners describe the early signs of mental health problems in children as distinct from the presentation in adults, as well as how children with strong social-emotional skills present.

What do we mean by trauma-informed services and why is such an approach important?

  • These videos and issue brief from the National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health is about Creating Trauma-Informed Provider Organizations. Although they are not early-childhood specific, these resources describe what trauma-informed organizations look like by presenting case studies about children and families seeking help. Given the high prevalence of trauma in the general population, these resources underscore that all provider organizations working with children, youth, and families should consider implementing a trauma-informed approach. In the videos, human services organization leadership describe specific steps they have taken and policies they have implemented to ensure provision of services was trauma-informed.
  • This video resource and accompanying text describes how early childhood mental health is a crucial domain of development. Practitioners describe the early signs of mental health problems in children as distinct from the presentation in adults, as well as how children strong social-emotional skills present.

My agency has decided it wants to be more trauma-informed. Where do I start?

  • The Administration for Children and Families sent this Information Memorandum to grantees to encourage agencies to adopt policies that promote the social-emotional and behavioral health of young children, in partnership with parents and families. The memo highlights resources related to positive parenting, family wellness, and workforce supports to recognize the signs of trauma, as well as child-focused strategies that foster social-emotional development, such as secure attachment and positive behavior management.
  • The National Technical Assistance Center for Early Head Start provided this webinar on the work of Head Start-University partnership grantees working on interventions meant to buffer toxic stress for children and families in Early Head Start. These approaches include parenting interventions that augment comprehensive services associated with Early Head Start. A number of the interventions described utilize a mechanism for parents to receive feedback about interactions with their children.
  • The Office of Head Start offered this webinar as part of an annual Birth to Three Institute that covers sources and consequences of adversity and trauma for infants, toddlers, young children and their families, as well as strategies for engaging with these families. The approaches highlighted in this webinar are strengths-based and build resilience in children and families.
  • This webinar on Promoting Resilience and School Readiness was produced from work on the Office of Head Start’s Birth to Five Leadership Institute. The discussion consisted of strategies to address trauma and adverse experiences for infants, toddlers, and their families. Officials from the Administration for Children and Families presented practical strategies for promoting social and emotional development and resiliency from the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL), and described adverse childhood experiences among young children experiencing poverty. The presentation also includes information about the Head Start-Trauma Smart model from Crittenden Children’s Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

We’ve begun working on these issues, but are trying to decide what to tackle next. How can I figure out my next steps?

  • Preventing Toxic Stress and Meeting the Needs of Children and Families with Multiple Serious Risk Factors was developed by SAMHSA. The resource has two specific areas of focus: Ensuring children involved in child welfare have access to high­ quality early care and education, early intervention, and infant and early childhood behavioral health care; and building the capacity of child ­serving programs and communities to identify and address early childhood trauma.
  • The Trauma Informed Care Web-Based Resources produced by the National Technical Assistance Center on Children’s Mental Health at Georgetown University includes several videos that discuss the benefits of a trauma-informed approach. These videos feature administrators and practitioners from child and family-serving agencies, including early childhood education providers.
  • Services for Families of Infants and Toddlers A Research-to-Practice Brief Experiencing Trauma is a Research-to-Practice Brief funded by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation. The 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. It focuses on interventions that support parents in providing the stable and nurturing caregiving that is responsive to the child’s general developmental needs and promotes children’s sense of safety and security. Such interventions may reduce or provide a buffer against infants’ traumatic experiences.

How can I/my staff recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in the clients we work with?

  • The National Technical Assistance Center on Social and Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) compiled this resource on screening for problem behaviors in infants and young children.
  • This is another list of screening instruments that can be administered to identify adult mental health issues including trauma, depression, and substance misuse. It was compiled by the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions.
  • For programs with mental health clinicians on staff, this list of evidence-based screening instruments for trauma developed by SAMHSA and HRSA may be helpful in developing procedures to identify clinical trauma issues in clients.
  • Tips for talking to children and youth after traumatic events: A guide for parents and educators—The authors explain how to help children cope with the emotional aftermath of a disaster and include information on common reactions according to developmental stage.
  • In Understanding Child Traumatic Stress the author discusses the cognitive response to danger as it relates to traumatic experiences or traumatic stress throughout all developmental stages, particularly in children. The document includes an overview of posttraumatic stress responses and their severity and duration, as well as posttraumatic stress after chronic or repeated trauma.

How do I develop the capacity of my staff to deliver trauma-informed services?

  • The National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health at Georgetown University created web-based, video resources entitled Trauma Informed Care Perspectives and Resources. Module 3 of this toolkit is focused on creating trauma-informed provider organizations that serve children and families. The videos feature practitioners and leadership from provider organizations who have taken on trauma-informed care as an organizational lens and goal for service delivery. ECE directors and leadership can get a better sense of how to implement trauma-informed approaches on the policy, practice, and all levels of staff work.

My staff often burn out from dealing with clients’ trauma constantly. How can I support them?

  • ACF’s National Center on Health and Wellness released this newsletter with information about how to address workplace related stress in early care and education settings. This document describes the impact of stress on caring for young children. It also describes the signs and symptoms of stress, and offers tips for managing stress.
  • Secondary traumatic stress: A fact sheet for child-serving professionals provides an overview of secondary traumatic stress and its potential impact on professionals who work with children. Also described are options for assessment, prevention, and interventions as well as factors that can enhance resilience.

What does my agency’s physical space have to do with being trauma-informed?

  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) produced this guide to creating trauma-sensitive classrooms from preschool through grade 3. The comprehensive guide covers expressions of trauma in early childhood settings across the domains of development, and ways to support young children who have experienced trauma in classroom settings.

Where can I learn more about evidence-based and promising interventions to address the effects of trauma?

These resources are appropriate for ECE directors considering different approaches as well as mental health consultants and practitioners in ECE settings and their supervisors.

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