No. 1 November 2013
Foster and Adoptive Parents and the Focus on Child Trauma
Today there’s a real sense of urgency about trauma in the field of child welfare. There is a strong feeling that we must do a better job identifying children who have had traumatic experiences and making sure they get the support they need.
Fueling this urgency is mounting evidence that if it is left untreated, trauma can have a profound, negative impact on children’s behavior, learning, health, and well-being not just in the short term, but for the rest of their lives. Findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, some of which are summarized below, illustrate how serious the consequences of trauma can be.
This issue of Fostering Perspectives is part of a nationwide effort to ensure foster, adoptive, and kinship parents know what they can do to help children heal and flourish after trauma. In these pages we:
- Explore what it means to be a “trauma-informed” parent
- Share strategies, suggestions, and tips for parents
- Tell you how you can learn more about this topic, which is so directly connected to the safety, permanence, and well-being of children.
We hope this issue is helpful to you and to the children we all care so much about.
The ACE Study Helps Reveal Trauma’s Impact
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study looked at broad types of negative childhood experience: abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction.
Over 17,000 people who had health insurance completed a survey about their childhood experiences and current habits and behaviors. Researchers compared the number of ACEs (between 0 and 10) each person reported to their medical health record.
The study revealed strong links between adverse childhood experiences and risky behavior, psychological problems, serious illness, and life expectancy. In fact, on average people with six or more adverse childhood experiences died nearly 20 years earlier than those with no ACEs.
Trauma also has a big financial impact: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates lifetime costs associated with child maltreatment at $124 billion.
Learn more about the ACE study through a wonderful CDC infographic: http://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/childmaltreatment/phl/resource_center_infographic.html
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~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~