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In This Report, You’ll Learn
The definition and types of trauma.
What trauma-informed practice involves and why it’s important in foster care.
How trauma-informed practice can help rewire teen brains.
This issue brief defines trauma, then discusses the trauma foster kids may go through and how caregivers and social workers should be ready to help. It is part of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative issue brief series.
Table of Contents
Most kids in foster care—maybe all of them—have experienced some form of trauma
Initially, we believed only men experienced trauma after catastrophic wars and physical injury. By the 1960s, trauma included the abuse of women, children and adolescents. Foster care itself may cumulatively add to the impact by severing important relationships and bonds, further traumatizing kids as they are removed from family, school and community.
Findings & Stats
A critical component of trauma is that the person’s response involves intense fear, helplessness or horror.
Researchers and service providers have concluded that the great majority of young people in foster care have experienced trauma in some form as a result of maltreatment and foster care placement.
In one study, 12% of foster kids scored in the clinical range for post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD), a condition once linked only with returning combat soldiers.
It is common to see traumatic emotional experiences in childhood morph into organic disease later in life.
Weighing the Impact
The effects of trauma are cumulative over a lifetime.
Statements & Quotations
Ambiguous loss freezes the grief process, prevents closure, and adds to young people’s feelings of insecurity and confusion.
Many adults interact with adolescents in foster care who have experienced trauma, but few understand the developmental impact of trauma on young people.
Three common elements characterize all forms of trauma: the event was unexpected, the individual was unprepared, and there was nothing that the person could do to prevent the event from happening.
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