Building a Multi-System Trauma-Informed Collaborative

Jason Brennen, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Jennifer Axelrod, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Image of two boys walking together, arm in arm

The effects of childhood trauma do not play out in isolation. They are seen in health care, employment, child welfare, homelessness services, juvenile and criminal justice, and education systems. An effective response to child trauma benefits not only children, but the communities in which they live. The current pandemic—a collective adversity—has increased calls to action.

Trauma-informed systems are necessary to ensure not only that children and families interacting with an agency have ready access to effective trauma-based interventions but that staff interactions, physical environments, and supporting policies and practices are aligned to a comprehensive model of care that supports resilience.

Building a Multi-System Trauma-Informed Collaborative is designed to help child-serving agencies and their partners build a coordinated and more effective response to child trauma, and to support jurisdictions as they look to further coordinate services and response across diverse stakeholders.

The guide is intended for an audience of state or local policymakers, public agency administrators, trauma experts, provider partners, and other stakeholders. The guide:

  • Provides an overview of the types, prevalence, and effects of trauma and its implications for child-serving systems;
  • Offers a framework for a coordinated trauma-informed approach within or across health care, child welfare, juvenile justice, education, early child development, first responder, and other child-serving systems; and
  • Includes a staged process for launching a multi-system trauma-informed collaborative and supporting the adoption of a cross-sector trauma-informed approach.

More about the Guide

Image of statistic about trauma

See more statistics related to trauma and trauma-informed care.

Child-serving systems benefit from developing coordinated, systematic approaches to addressing the impact of trauma on the children and families they serve.

In response to the growing need for a cross-sector trauma-informed response, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), launched the Multi-System Trauma-Informed Collaborative (MSTIC) to build the capacity of state child-serving systems to develop, coordinate, and enhance policies and practices for serving youth exposed to violence and other adverse childhood experiences. AIR and Chapin Hall provided training and technial assistance to a cohort of state collaboratives from Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington to support them in their cross-system efforts.

The current guide offers a framework and process for establishing multi-system trauma-informed collaboratives informed by preliminary lessons learned from the MSTIC work, along with guidance from the fields of trauma-informed care, systems change, and implementation science.

Kathleen Guarino
Senior TA Consultant
Simon Gonsoulin
Principal Researcher