START with Kids provides trauma-informed, clinically driven care to children and families in emergency shelters in Worcester, MA. Conducted by The National Center on Family Homelessness, START with Kids is part of the Safe Start Initiative—a federal effort to prevent and reduce the impact of family and community violence on children and their families funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Trauma-Informed Care | National Center on Family Homelessness
The prevalence of traumatic stress in the lives of families experiencing homelessness is extraordinarily high. Often these families have experienced ongoing trauma in the form of childhood abuse and neglect, family disruption, domestic violence, community violence, involvement with the foster care system, and the trauma associated with the loss of home, safety, and sense of security. Ongoing exposure to traumatic stress, particularly exposure from a younger age, can impact all aspects of people's lives, including physiological, emotional, and cognitive functioning; social interactions/relationships; and identity formation.
In response to the high rates of traumatic stress among families who are homeless, the homelessness service system is moving towards a new way of providing care. Trauma survivors have unique needs requiring providers to tailor their approaches. Becoming "trauma-informed" involves using knowledge of trauma and recovery to design and deliver services. Trauma-informed care is defined as "a strengths-based framework that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment."* Becoming trauma-informed requires a commitment to changing the practices, policies, and culture of an entire organization.
For over a decade, the National Center on Family Homelessness has been a leading voice in defining and operationalizing trauma-informed care in homeless service settings. The National Center develops and disseminates tools and resources for adopting trauma-informed care across service systems and provides training and technical assistance to support implementation.
*Hopper, E.K., Bassuk, E. L., & Olivey, J. (2010). Shelter from the storm: Trauma-informed care in homelessness services settings. Open Health Services and Policy Journal, 3, 80-100.