This report by Tricia Stephens, LCSW-R, Ph.D. is intended to provide family court officers and child welfare professionals who engage with child welfare involved (CWI) parents, introductory knowledge on the trauma-informed approach. Readers will be introduced to the importance of using the trauma-informed approach in their work with CWI parents, with a focus on the impact that language has on the way in which CWI parents are depicted and responded to in the courtroom. Definitions of key terms are provided first, followed by an overview of the trauma-informed approach and its application to working with CWI parents. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this report has been updated to include recommendations for trauma-informed practices that best support families during a period of collective/shared trauma. Then the section titled, “What parents want you to know”, provides direct input from parents on their experiences, needs and perspectives. Finally, a composite vignette which compares traditional language to trauma-informed language is presented.
Posts By: Rise
This June, we are celebrating Reunification Month against the backdrop of COVID-19. Many in-person visits have been suspended, services have shuttered and courts remain closed, creating additional barriers to reunification.
It always requires extraordinary stamina, resilience and hope for parents to believe that the system that separated their family will allow them to reunite. This year, parents face higher stress and uncertainty, losses and pain.
Now it’s even more important to replace the current dynamics of child welfare interventions—threat, coercion, punishment, and lack of privacy and self-determination—with approaches that strengthen parents’ power.
Due to COVID-19, children currently are not physically attending school or programs staffed by mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. Reports to child protective services have decreased significantly. Some quickly jumped to the conclusion that abuse and neglect may be going undetected and unreported.
However, parents and advocates provide another perspective and explain that the drop in calls is not necessarily the problem the media assumes. In fact, 90% of school personnel hotline calls turn out not be abuse or neglect.
Rise acknowledges the pain and grief that black people are experiencing right now and stands in solidarity with the black community.