Perhaps no other child-serving systems encounter a higher percentage of children with a trauma history than the child welfare system. Almost by definition, children served by child welfare have experienced at least one major traumatic event, and many have long and complex trauma histories. Children in the child welfare system, especially those in foster care, have a higher prevalence of mental health problems than the general population. Abuse and neglect often occur with concurrent exposure to domestic violence, substance abuse, and community violence.
These children also often face the additional stressors of removal from the home, multiple placements in out-of-home care (foster homes, shelters, group homes, residential treatment facilities, kinship placements), and different schools and peer groups. Research shows that exposure to trauma can increase the risk of experiencing multiple types of trauma, known as polyvictimization or complex trauma, with increased likelihood of adverse traumatic symptoms. CWLA is committed to ensuring that children and their families are provided with effective trauma-informed services that lead to their optimal well-being.
In the winter of 2012, CWLA will devote a special issue of its journal, Child Welfare, to addressing the effect of child traumatic stress on children, families, operations, and staff within child welfare. Of particular interest are articles that address the following: Trauma-informed, evidence-based innovative practice and policy across the spectrum of child welfare services including prevention of child abuse and neglect, family preservation and support, child and family protection, placement, and permanency services Trauma-informed, evidenced-based mental health practice within the child welfare system (e. g. screening, assessment, and treatment) Trauma and evidence-informed strategies and practices that improve the social and emotional well-being for children involved or at risk of involvement with child welfare who experience trauma and/or exhibit trauma symptoms Culturally responsive models for youth, family, and community engagement in developing trauma-informed child welfare practice, policy, and systemic improvement Prevalence and impact of secondary traumatic stress on child welfare staff and evidence-based interventions indicated for secondary traumatic stress Role of cultural issues and cultural competency on developing trauma-informed child welfare ractice, policy, and systemic improvement Data collection, empirical investigation, and evaluation of the effects of identification, referral, and treatment on the safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes of children exposed to traumatic stress involved with the child welfare system Effective cross-system collaborations between child welfare, education, mental health, and juvenile justice systems in identifying and addressing the impact of trauma on children and families served by multiple systems While there are many promising practices emerging regarding the response of child welfare to address child traumatic stress, there is a need to document and share knowledge and experiences more broadly. CWLA is soliciting manuscripts that document and build on these experiences. Research-based articles and conceptual works referencing studies are welcome. Articles that document innovative and promising practices where knowledge is being built are also encouraged