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Because Healing is Possible

Because Healing is Possible


What is Child Trauma?

Trauma in children happens when they experience one or more traumatic events, or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

At Lifeline for Kids, we often hear from families impacted by parental substance misuse and the added trauma or adversity kids experience when their parents are struggling. This reinforces our shift in focus away from asking “what’s wrong with you.” Instead, we seek to understand “what happened to you” when we work with kids and families.

As understanding about childhood trauma continues to grow, experts have recognized the need to change how we parent, teach and provide medical care to traumatized youth. Childhood trauma can rewire the brain. What may have been labeled a developmental or behavioral health issue is now more accurately understood to be physiologic—the body’s reaction to child traumatic stress.


To learn more, download our brochure:
Understanding Childhood Trauma and Your Family



Addressing Child Trauma:
Why It Matters

Trauma in children often has long-lasting, profound impacts that affect daily life, behavior, and mental, emotional and physical health. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative, child trauma survivors may experience:
      ▪ Increased use of health and mental health services
      ▪ Increased risk for behavioral health and substance use disorders
      ▪ Learning problems, including lower grades and more suspensions and expulsions
      ▪ Long-term health problems such as autoimmune disease, diabetes and heart disease
      ▪ More involvement with child welfare and juvenile justice systems

Children are adaptable and resilient, and these outcomes are not foregone conclusions. By identifying trauma, recognizing signs and symptoms of child traumatic stress, and responding appropriately, children can recover and grow into healthy adults.

Treating Child Trauma:
The Challenge

There are many opportunities to identify the presence of trauma and provide short- and long-term support.
But to take advantage of them, involved allies, professionals and caregivers need to understand:

▪ How to engage with children and their families
▪ How to ask questions to identify if trauma has occurred
▪ How to differentiate trauma symptoms from other conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), a developmental delay or anxiety
▪ How child trauma impacts the developing nervous system, immune system, organs and genes
▪ Which kids should be referred for mental health services, developmental supports and pediatric
health care



Barriers to Care

Lack of training means many health care and child-serving professionals
must navigate these complex situations without a roadmap. As a result,
two-thirds of young people with mental health issues don’t get the
support they need, according to the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry
Access Program

Other barriers to care include:

▪ Lack of insurance coverage
▪ Lack of access to specialists
▪ Long waiting lists
▪ Engagement issues

What Is Trauma-Informed Care and Why Is It Important?

Trauma-informed care understands that prior exposures to trauma can negatively affect all aspects of an individual’s health. It requires that everyone involved in a child’s care—from schools and judges to caregivers and child-serving professionals—take the time to understand the person’s past and present life experiences to provide effective, quality care.

Trauma-informed care involves:

    • Screening for trauma
    • Recognizing the impact of ACEs and trauma
    • Training clinical and supportive staff in evidence-based treatments for child trauma
    • Implementing trauma-informed clinical interventions, such as Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
    • Resisting re-traumatizing practices
    • Supporting recovery and resilience

Trauma-informed care:

    • Empowers childhood trauma survivors and helps them recover
    • Helps prevent re-traumatization
    • Increases trust between professionals and youth and family
    • Increases youth and family engagement
    • Improves long-term outcomes
    • Reduces burnout of professionals
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How We're Increasing Access to Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care helps children overcome and thrive after trauma. At Lifeline for Kids, we have developed practical ways to implement trauma-informed care in traditional and nontraditional settings. In our statewide child trauma center, our experts have trained thousands of professionals in trauma responsive practices.

See how we’re positively impacting the lives of millions of children:

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Trauma-informed care centralized referral service:
LINK-KID is our referral system for Massachusetts youth who have experienced trauma. It significantly reduces the time a child waits for trauma-informed care—from 6 to 9 months to around 40 days. Learn more about LINK-KID or call 1-855-LINK-KID to speak to one of our clinical referral coordinators.

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Trauma-informed care trainings:
We offer trauma-informed care trainings to help child-serving professionals—including law enforcement, teachers, and social workers—better identify, screen, and respond to child trauma. Read more about our trauma-informed care training.

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Evidence-based trauma treatment trainings:
We offer robust and customizable TF-CBT training to mental health agencies and clinicians. Participants are eligible for national TF-CBT certification upon completion. Get information about our Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) training.

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Trauma-informed care consulting:
We help organizations, agencies, and professionals adopt trauma-informed approaches into their workflows. Learn more about our trauma-informed care consulting services.

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Resilience Through Relationships

Resilience is a proven antidote
to trauma, and we know that resilience
is grown in supportive caregiving
relationships. Our Resilience Through
Relationships initiative seeks to promote
protective factors in children, parents,
caregivers, and families.