First Ever Study of Trauma-Informed Foster Care Shows Stunning Results

Children and adolescents who enter the foster care system have typically been previously exposed to more adverse experiences than children in the general population. That’s because foster care is designed to protect children who have experienced trauma such as abuse, neglect or other family challenges. While no fault of their own, youth who have experienced trauma often have difficulty regulating their emotions and managing their behavior. This inability to cope with challenging emotions and situations can postpone the child’s safe reunification with his or her family, affect foster home stability and delay adoption.

The issue of childhood trauma affects many of the 428,000 children in the child welfare system nationally. Wanting to be part of the solution, KVC Health Systems along with The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Child Trends and Dr. Glenn Saxe of New York University, launched one of the largest longitudinal studies on the impact of trauma-informed and focused care in the country. KVC believes children grow best in families and aims to ensure all children in foster care are able to reach their potential in safe, loving homes until they can be safely reunified with their families or a permanent home can be found.

In the five-year research study called Bridging the Way Home, KVC Health Systems, The Child Study Center at New York University, Child Trends, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation partnered to evaluate the implementation of Trauma Systems Therapy (TST), a trauma-informed intervention model for youth and families experiencing traumatic stress. KVC implemented TST throughout KVC Kansas, an organization that provides in-home and out-of-home care to children served by the Kansas Department for Children and Families in the Kansas City Metropolitan and East Kansas regions. This was the largest study ever conducted to implement a research-informed therapeutic model across an organization’s full continuum of care.

“This study validates what we have long believed, which is that, with the right interventions applied at the right time, children with significant challenges can and do get better. KVC’s staff have clearly demonstrated that implementing and sustaining trauma-informed and focused care changes lives,” said Kelly McCauley, Associate Director for the KVC Institute for Health Systems Innovation and project lead for TST implementation and evaluation.

Trauma Systems Therapy

Dr. Glenn Saxe, M.D., of the New York University School of Medicine developed the Trauma Systems Therapy model, which has previously been used in clinical settings. TST is a research-based approach that identifies trauma in youth and helps to create a community surrounding the child for continued treatment and support. With Dr. Saxe’s support, KVC…

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