As I listen to and watch the struggles in the Illinois and Indiana Child Services Departments, I search for states that have implemented the lens of trauma awareness and resilience into the child protective services practices.  We know, by the numbers of foster care placements, failed placements, re-placements, residential treatment placements, failed residential treatment placements, failed adoptions, etc. that removing children from their families is not necessarily an answer for families (parents and children).  Does anyone know where trauma awareness practices are a part of the work of protective services and on-going family involvement in the "system"?  And are there any stats on how it is working, regarding number of placements being reduced and families getting stronger?

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I know that Benchmarks PFE (Partnering for Excellence) has a pilot program going. They are working with researchers from Duke to help measure and assess. They are doing a few things I think are pretty cool:

  • Making sure therapists and clinicians are trauma-informed and ACEs aware.
  • Making sure Child Welfare and Family Services is trauma-informed and ACEs aware.
  • Making sure medical insurers they work with are as well.
  • But they are also doing some innovative things such as working with and listening to adults who were in foster care and asking for their ideas, having them present at conferences and in meetings. They are looking at the fact that they have had generations of families in the system and clearly it's not working. They bring in speakers like Tonier Cain who speaks from having been in the system.

Private message me if you'd like me to help get you in touch with them. Here are a few links to their work. They have an ACEs Connection site

Here's the Duke Univ. link:.

The Benchmarks PFE website.

Finally, Rise Magazine has some of the best writing and reporting on this topic by mostly parents but some social workers/staff as well who have been involved with the system and have insights, advice, experiences to share.

I recommend posting on the home page as well.

GREAT and important question/topic!


This is a problem area for sure.  I did my residency at Riley and worked as a pedi in several places in Indiana.  

The child welfare system is incredibly broken because the resources alloted in Indiana are poor (and MI too). And all over the country. 

The case workers are not well trained or paid and all I have met are almost totally unaware of the importance of ACEs science, but getting better.    I’ve talked to a few of my fellow peds classmates still in Indiana and it hasn’t changed much  I am told.  These SYSTEMS are like the titanic & are hard to move. I have been trying to get things done with my county DHS in MI and it has been overwhelmingly stressful - so much so I gave up for now.  I decided I needed a new approach starting from the outside.  I would say that checking out other state models is great, most probably have lots of problems because we simply don’t put in the financial resources that are needed - which is the biggest problem - but go slow, think about how you can show the agency that by understanding ACEs science - and I think working on creating a community wide trauma-Informed community culture and  approaching from the grassroots level, you could show over time this cultural transformation would help their work, reduce their stress, improve their success and ultimately increase buy in.   I haven’t been met with interest in my DHS system as someone with value even though I was in the system growing up - sometimes some agencies just aren’t interested in what β€œsurvivors” have to say. 

These systems are used to how they do things and moving these big ships around takes a lot of finesse.  Proceed with care and do lots of self-care because I know the kids I see and the decisions and outcomes of child welfare systems (and my own lived experience)  are often overwhelmingly heart-breaking and an area where the risk of secondary trauma is very high. 

Lake has Gary so not Rural like my experiences so you may have better luck. I would still say, go slow. These systems don’t like rapid change. 

Just my random thoughts. 

Last edited by Former Member

I echo the sentiments shared here. Service Management Solution services for Children is about to embark on this journey. We have been trained through the Karyn Purvis Institute in Texas, using Trust Based Relational Intervention. I manage the training for the Child Protection Investigators with the Department of Children and Families as well as the training for Case Managers. It is a daunting task. We plan to eat this elephant one bite at a time. The TBRI training will be required after Pre-service training of CMs/ Investigators and it will be included after the Foster/Adoptive Parent Training. 

We also plan to build capacity for implementation using identified coaches. Coaches will be available to foster/adoptive parents during emergencies and to better implement the strategies learned during the course.

Coaches will be identified in both the foster parent and child welfare professional roles.

We also plan to transform our physical space so that it is trauma informed. Spaces include our entry space, visitation rooms and offices. 

We are looking at ways to measure success. Stay Tuned!


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