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California Essentials for Childhood Initiative (CA)

The California Essentials for Childhood Initiative uses a public health and collective impact approach to align and enhance collaborative efforts to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for children, youth and families through systems, policy and social norms change.

Secondary Traumatic Stress Affects Child Abuse Prevention Champions


Each year, millions of children in California endure the trauma of abuse, violence, natural disasters, and other adverse events. These experiences can give rise to significant emotional and behavioral problems that can profoundly disrupt the children’s lives and bring them in contact with child-serving professionals. For therapists, child welfare workers, case managers, and other helping professionals involved in the care of traumatized children and their families, the essential act of listening to trauma stories may take an emotional toll that compromises professional functioning and diminishes quality of life.

Secondary traumatic stress (STS) is the emotional duress that results when an individual hears about the firsthand trauma experiences of another, its symptoms mimic those of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it affects child-serving professionals every day.

The Advancing California’s Trauma-Informed Systems (ACTS) project is currently helping multiple county systems address STS. ACTS is helping county systems implement different prevention and intervention strategies to address STS in their systems such as:

  • Providing opportunities for learning about and an understanding of the impact of STS through trainings and/or workshops
  • Ensuring supervisors are trained in reflective supervision and managing STS with staff
  • Providing staff with adequate resources for self-care, including supervision, consultation, and peer support that addresses STS

Individual and supervisory awareness of the effects STS is a basic part of protecting the health of professionals and ensuring that children consistently receive the best possible care from those who are committed to helping them. Strategies to prevent and address STS should be implemented to create trauma-informed systems that are strong and resilient, and where support and training is given to those who are exposed to the first-hand emotional duress of others.

To learn more, please visit Advancing California’s Trauma-Informed Systems. Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS). at



Peterson, S. (2018, October 22). Secondary Traumatic Stress. Retrieved from

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