National Center for Effective Mental Halth Consultation

Building Trauma Informed Services

Early childhood mental health consultants can help to build trauma informed services through programmatic consultation. Consultants can work with Early Head Start and Head Start administrators and staff and provide guidance and recommendations for staff education, program policy, and practices that will prepare them to work effectively with a high-risk and potentially traumatized population. The focus of this work would include:

  • Understanding the impact of trauma on infants, toddlers, young children and their families
  • Having intake, screening, observation and interview practices that incorporate strategies relevant to trauma, trauma history, and recognizing trauma signs and symptoms.
  • Revisiting policies and procedures, such as those that address program emergencies, crisis situations, reporting child abuse and neglect, community partnerships, resource and referrals, etc. to be sure that they address issues related to trauma.
  • Having guidelines for classroom procedures, daily routines, home visiting, etc. that consider the impact of trauma, address the individual needs of children and families impacted by trauma, provide reminders about avoiding unintentionally "re-traumatizing" a child or family in their care, and how to generally support these children and families through the Early Head Start and Head Start program.
  • Training and supporting staff that equips them to cope with the challenging work of serving young children impacted by trauma and their families and helps to avoid secondary trauma and burn-out.
  • Building strong collaborative relationships with community resources that are also trauma-informed and/or provide trauma related services.
  • Advocating for trauma informed policies and trauma focused services and interventions in your Early Head Start and Head Start community to help strengthen community partnerships and build much needed supports for children and families impacted by trauma.

(Adapted from Cooper et al, 2007 and Zindler et al, 2010)




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Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development National Center for Effective Mental Health Consultation