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Connecting Families to Supports

Once you identify trauma, you are responsible for connecting the family to some kind of support. How you make those connections matter.

Families who open up about their trauma are taking an emotional risk. Listening and responding in a non-judgmental way sets the right tone for their healing journey. As you think about how to help children and families with trauma, consider the following:

Let families lead the way in their healing journey

Children and their caregivers know what’s best for them. Working together to think about what supports they need is the best way to ensure they can heal from their trauma.

Offer thoughts on what services you think might be useful and let them choose where they want to start.

Respect children and caregivers’ choices. They might feel more comfortable with one type of service over another.

Discuss how people often look for help from many different sources, including different kinds of providers, healers, or community members. Ask them what types of help, advice, or healing they have used in the past.

Offer connections to services that are individualized and culturally relevant

Families are more likely to engage with services and providers that resonate with their culture and preferences.

When building your directory of services, include providers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and who speak multiple languages.

Pay attention to a child or family’s interests and strengths when thinking about supports that could help them heal.

Discuss how sometimes providers and families misunderstand each other because they come from different backgrounds. Stigma around therapy and distrust of child serving professionals can sometimes be barriers to engaging in trauma services. Ask caregivers if they have concerns about this and how you can help them get the supports they want.

If you’re unsure or concerned about a child’s trauma experience, consult with a colleague, supervisor, or trauma-informed community provider.

Provide warm handoffs and follow-up with the family

To make sure children and their caregivers stay engaged in services, it’s important to:

Prioritize in-person conversations when connecting families with providers

When in-person referrals are not possible, connect families and providers over the phone, Facetime, or any technology the family uses.

Follow-up by asking the family if they’ve been able to meet with the provider and if they feel like the services are helpful.