Advancing Child Trauma Screening Practices

An Evidence-Informed Framework for a Pictorial Child Trauma Screening Tool




child trauma, trauma screening, complex trauma, child trauma measurement


Child trauma screening practices have advanced considerably as child-serving systems have increasingly incorporated early identification and intervention into trauma-informed models of care. While research points to the necessity of screening practices that attend to a child’s developmental capacities, cultural background, relational strengths, contextual details surrounding the traumatic experience, and complex trauma considerations, many of these features remain absent in common brief screening measures used in practice. Pictorial screening measures may offer an innovative opportunity to address attentional concerns and developmental capacities of young and complexly traumatized children, yet are understudied in this area. The purpose of this paper is threefold: 1) highlight areas for expansion within current brief trauma screening models, 2) propose an evidence-informed framework for a pictorial complex trauma screening tool for children, and 3) offer implementation considerations for piloting the proposed screening tool. Piloting and implementation considerations address the importance of cognitive interviewing, cultural sensitivity, development of a companion response and referral protocol, and embedding principles of trauma-informed care in the training and implementation process.


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