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State Policy Guide on Preventing and Healing Childhood Trauma

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

--Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

Every child needs access to the opportunities that prepare him or her to compete in the changing economies and realities of the 21st century.  Unfortunately, for too many children, exposure to violence and traumatic events in the home, school, or community can affect them throughout their entire lives.

We are thrilled to release this brand new guide that is part of the solution Changing Minds: Preventing and Healing Childhood Trauma State Policy Guide.

Last summer, Futures Without Violence gathered a group of 40 state and local leaders, federal partners, philanthropy, and national stakeholders met in Washington, DC to exchange policy approaches and craft a framework for preventing and healing childhood trauma at the state level. They hailed from governors’ offices, advocacy organizations, research institutions, state and federal agencies as well as health, child welfare, education, justice, and child development organizations.

This guide is a result of that summer meeting – a guide that addresses how health, education, child welfare, justice, and child development organizations can further the prevention and healing of childhood trauma at the state level through both legislation and administrative action.  

Participants agreed that there is a growing understanding that addressing childhood trauma is a pathway to better academic, economic, civic, and health outcomes for communities and that this is the time to innovate at the state level.

There was strong consensus about how states can best move forward. For these efforts to be effective, policy needs to address the reality that children grow up and develop in the context of their families, communities, and cultures. And, we need to expand our definitions of violence to include systemic and historical violence that disproportionately impacts communities of color, LBGT youth, and other marginalized groups. Decision-makers ought to unite with affected families, youth and communities to develop policies that focus on their needs and reflect their voices.

The Policy Guide suggests very specific strategies within five goals for action:

  • State-level Collaboration and Accountability
  • Innovation and Learning
  • Workforce Training and Wellness
  • Prevention and Service Capacity
  • Race and Gender Equity

States are well-positioned to be the difference between the life-long poor outcomes research indicates flow from experiencing violence and the opportunity to prevent and heal child trauma so children are safe, healthy and successful. 

We recognize that we are early in this journey.  Without doubt, there are lessons to learn and share as we travel the road together. If you would like to learn about efforts in other states, join our effort and share your contact information by emailing: with subject line “Changing Minds: Preventing and Healing Childhood Trauma State Policy.”

Funded in part by The California Endowment, Blue Shield of California Foundation, and The John and Lisa Pritzker Foundation


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