Conceptualizing a Trauma Informed Child Welfare System for Indian Country
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AbstractThe creation of trauma-informed systems that use evidence-based, culturally competent interventions for affected children and families is a priority in Indian Country because mounting evidence from adverse childhood experiences research with American Indians documents the incidence and prevalence of trauma. What is more, an emergent line of research documents secondary traumatic stress (STS) in the adult workforce, which reduces their ability to help affected children and families and contributes to workforce turnover. The development of a trauma-informed system entails evidence-based detection, treatment, and prevention mechanisms for children, families, and STS-affected social services professionals. With tribal child welfare systems as a starting point and also as a centerpiece for the development of companion, trauma-informed behavioral and mental health systems, we propose a conceptual framework for such work to guide innovative system designs. Although some aspects of such a system currently are in place in several Native American communities, to our knowledge the comprehensive design we describe is not fully developed and implemented anywhere. Adaptive leadership and evaluation-driven, organizational learning systems are practical necessities.