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We are looking for foster/adoptive parent education programs that not only address ACEs, but that have ACEs awareness as the bones of the program.  By this I mean, looking beyond "behavior management" and addressing what is happening in the brain of a child who has come from the hard places of trauma and using that science to go beyond behaviors and yes even looking beyond what is considered "normal" child development.

Does anyone know of such a program?

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Actually, Dr. Brian Post introduced me to concept of childhood trauma effects when he did a workshop in Louisville KY in late 1990's

Heather Forbes,  learned from Brian then spun off on her own

As a newly adoptive Mom, I attended a conference in Nashville in 2009; it was first "Empowered to Connect" training sponsored by Show Hope.  Show Hope has some TBRI videos at (play list of these videos on YouTube ) This was based on book The Connected Child & the work of late Dr. Karen Purvis, whose legacy goes on at TCU most notably for your question  Other resources are on the TCU site: Work is carried on by her colleague at TCU Dr. David Cross

Eva Atkinson, MA, LMFT, LCADC

Brescia University, Owensboro KY

adoptive Mom of 2 internationally born children

Last edited by Eva Atkinson

Hi, We have led multiple trainings for foster parents and trained groups of parent leaders to do the same through the University of Washington school of Social Work.  We have also worked with teams from Casey Family Programs. The approach is based on Dr. Jane Nelsen's work, Positive Discipline, and adapted specifically to foster parenting including a deep dive into the brain science of attachment and trauma, and self-regulation using frames that we learned from Dr. Bruce Perry. We also use what we've learned about resilience and shame from Dr. BrenΓ© Brown. The approach is relational with strong tools for accountability.

I'd be glad to answer questions about what we do that is different than what we do in more traditional parenting groups and what we've learned from the foster parents themselves that have informed our work. In an ideal world we work to train members of the community to become the parenting educators themselves - because they are on the ground and create a sustainable network of support for their community.


I am so excited to see these answers.  I am a Certified Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control Instructor and a Certified Great Behavior Breakdown Instructor.  And I couldn't agree more that love-based parenting is THE answer.  And though, it is NOT as easy to do as following some cookbook approach, in the long run, it is what works.  You might reasonably ask, why then am I asking?  Great question except that it appears that for the particular project we are proposing the "parenting program" needs to be "evidence based".  Most of the evidence based parenting programs out there, are deeply rooted in child development and behavior management that is definitely not "beyond" consequences, logic, and control.  Yet we know that when you stress you regress and when trauma is triggered, a child cannot reach the thinking part of their brain. When you look at what is underneath the iceberg of visible behaviors, we know that traditional parenting models are fairly ineffective.  

Elaine, there is a difference between "evidence based" and certified as "best practices." I ran a study of a group of Adlerian based parenting programs, almost all of which used the Positive Discipline program and it was published in 2003. It showed significant changes. Since then, since we do pre and post surveys with all of our classes we have collected more data showing increased connection and decreased harshness in families across lots of different backgrounds. So yes, there is evidence, and no it is not best practices because the criteria now includes formal randomized control groups. And we don't have the budget for that.

Hi Elaine,

The Wisconsin Trauma Project developed an 8 week workshop from the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network's (NCTSN) Trauma Informed Parenting workshop to help adults understand the impacts of trauma on children's brains, bodies, and behaviors. This curriculum was designed for biological parents, adoptive or foster parents, kinship caregivers, social workers, and community members to partner and understand how to support a child who has experienced trauma. It is a powerful workshop that allows participants to better understand the child and reflect on their own experiences with trauma. Participants are also given the chance to build community and support with one another.

For more information and to access the curriculum materials please visit and click on Strengthening Families and Systems: Building Positive Experiences with Children who have Experienced Trauma at the bottom of the page.

While not specifically designed for foster/adoptive parents, The ACEs Coalition of Guelph & Wellington has a series of 5 online, self-directed modules available for free that address many of the issues you highlighted in your question. The five modules include:

  1. An introduction to Adverse Childhood Experiences
  2. The Impact of ACES
  3. Resilience
  4. Taking Action to Prevent and Reduce the Effects of ACEs and Build Resilience
  5. ACEs and Resilience Practice Case

Register here -


We have developed a program like you discuss and I would be happy to meet with you virtually to discuss.

It sounds like a lot of what i see above! We purchased the Resilience Documentary and we are able to screen the entire film - about 1 hour or use some of the extras for other trainings.

We have shown to parents, community members, medical students, other health professionals in training and yes foster families!!  It is good for staff working with children and adults as well.


Although, ACE's is not addressed specifically, The Nurtured Heart Approach developed by Howard Glasser,  is an excellent approach that fosters development in all children coming from difficult places. I recommend looking into it. As an Advanced Trainer in the approach as well as a foster/adopt parent, I have seen families thrive, including my own. The approach focuses on relationships and building from within.

Please consider Creating Resilience.  My training program incorporates the evidence based research of the ARC Framework (attachment, regulation and competency).  My most recent training received this comment: The things we learned will help me be a better mother and I hope give my children the skills they need to become who they want to be despite any challenges, obstacles, or trauma they may go through as they go through life.

I can present all material virtually.

Contact me at or call/text 405-612-9432 

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