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I have just been asked by a colleague how one goes about doing a Notification (Child Services) from a Trauma Informed Care stance.In particular when the service is actually working with the parent who is dealing with their own trauma history and will as a result of the notification be investigated. Does anyone have any suggestions/links/policy egs/research about how this might be done in a way that reflects TIC principles. It goes without saying here that the needs of the kids must be taken care of.


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The concern you describe is one that probably thousands of people in this field have shared. When states have silo-ed systems, where each has its own mandate, where punitive approaches conflict with compassionate approaches, you are going to get unsatisfactory outcomes, dissatisfied clients, and frustrated workers. Some states are beginning to realize that when a team approach is taken, with a common base of understanding and a goal that is child and family-focused, rather than system-focused, we will begin to see communities with a sense of hope and a feeling of greater safety. Unfortunately, even when we think that individuals have been trauma-informed, the attitude is often one of condescension, disparagement, and humiliation. It's hard to change without good leaders modeling that change; without practicing that change with good and honest feedback.

We have to start somewhere. Legally, you have to report to child protection, even when you know the system may not respond in the child's or the family's best interest. Then you have to join voices to advocate for replacing old traditional policies with ones that are informed by contemporary knowledge and understanding around the impact of trauma.

Thanks to the work that has been done around ACEs and the ongoing research that provides the science to support the observations and correlations, we have a very robust new field of expertise that is beginning to influence change all across the country. I've been involved in this work at various levels for over twenty years and I'm finally getting excited by what is happening. The discussions around adversity and trauma that were once pushed to the sidelines or brushed off altogether, are now mainstream discussions, with competition among agencies to become involved in promoting this new knowledge and finding ways to apply it to practice.

The consistent messages that both Dr. Anda and Dr. Felitti have been delivering for years, and now the organizing in Washington State that shows it CAN be done and be effective and cost efficient, AND the impact of Jane Stevens work to connect people has brought us pretty close to critical mass to effect change.

Resources are developing like wildfire. Check out sites like NCTSN, with their child welfare and trauma informed care toolkit; Google Ann Jennings for a wide variety of resources and much more that can be found on this site as well.

We could easily become discouraged. But now is a time when our voice is becoming louder and our march is becoming synchronized. Now is a time for us to feel energized. I believe that within ten years we will have significantly changed society's approach and response to trauma.

Keep the faith!

Has there been open dialogue with the family about the risks and concerns that are present? Through the current work with the family, has there been psychoeducation regarding the impacts trauma has had on the developing brain, and how it has influenced and manifested into the parenting patterns? By recognizing, as you have shared, that the parent is working through their own trauma and the impact that Human Service involvement will have on the parent, and extra sensitivity and support required for parent, is step one. Good Work.

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