Trauma Screening and Assessments for Children in Foster Care

The impact of childhood trauma can last a lifetime. The assessments used in the child welfare system should be improved to ensure children in the system are more quickly matched with the services they need to heal, are more often placed in appropriate settings and are not assessed and reassessed at great cost when doing so is not warranted.

Trauma associated with child maltreatment affects many parts of a child’s life, from behavior and emotions, to relationships, beliefs about the world, ability to concentrate and succeed in school, and physical and mental health. In addition to whatever form of abuse or neglect foster children may have experienced prior to entering foster care, removal from home is itself a painful and potentially traumatic experience. Yet not all kids entering the child welfare system receive the type of trauma-informed assessment that leads to helping kids recover from the experiences they’ve been through. While our state has made great advances in promoting trauma-informed services through passage of SB 219, in order to maximize the opportunities for connecting children to trauma-informed services, exposure to trauma should be assessed as part of a thorough, uniform assessment process upon children entering the foster care system.

To read and download the full policy brief click here.