Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Trauma-informed Care Approach to Child Traumatic Stress

doctor practices trauma-informed care

Children exposed to a potentially traumatic event are at risk for developing traumatic stress reactions. Additionally, chronic exposure to poverty and violence within neighborhoods or homes can create "toxic stress," which has been associated with behavioral and learning challenges as well as physical and emotional consequences through adulthood.

Pediatric healthcare providers play a key role in preventing injury-related post-traumatic stress by providing “trauma-informed” pediatric care, which includes recognizing pre-existing trauma, addressing acute traumatic stress reactions associated with the traumatic event, minimizing potentially traumatic aspects of treatment, and identifying children who need additional monitoring or referrals for more help.

VPI at CHOP promotes a systems approach of trauma-informed care for those who work with children, regardless of the setting in which they work (e.g., medical settings, schools, social agencies, and law enforcement). With training and awareness, individuals working in these settings can better appreciate the challenging context in which many youth live, as well as understand the possible multiple trauma exposures that youth encounter. This awareness also helps build understanding of how adults can support youth and help them more quickly return to their normal functioning following exposure to trauma. Actively helping to build resiliency within families and supporting positive parenting can change a child’s typical reaction to toxic stress and support his healthy development.

Read illustrative article about trauma-informed care in a CHOP Trauma Bay

Listen to news story from WHYY-FM about trauma-informed care.

Watch an introductory webinar on trauma-informed care.


  • After The Injury -- A site dedicated to helping parents understand their child's reactions to injury and learn how to help children cope with trauma in a healthy way.
  • Health Care Toolbox -- This site is intended for health care professionals, to help improve comprehensive care for children and their families.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network --The mission of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families and communities throughout the United States.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): A Public Health Approach to Toxic Stress --This report looks to apply developmental science to the clinical setting, so pediatricians can better help their patients dealing with toxic stress.
  • The Center on the Developing Child- Harvard University -- The mission of this Center is to leverage rapidly growing knowledge about how early childhood is a time of both great promise and considerable risk to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. This selection specifically looks at how the AAP is addressing adverse childhood experiences.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy -- This site offers a free web-based training course for learning Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, an evidence-based treatment for traumatic stress.
  • The Sanctuary Model --The mission of the Sanctuary Model is to teach individuals and organizations the necessary skills for creating and sustaining nonviolent lives and nonviolent systems.