Child Welfare Ideas From the Experts, #1: Trauma Training for Caregivers

Amnoni Myers, 25, Foster Youth Intern for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)
Amnoni Myers, 25, Foster Youth Intern for Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)

The Chronicle of Social Change is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI), a group of 11 former foster youths who completed Congressional internships. The program is overseen each summer by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, with support from the Sara Start Fund.

Each of the FYI participants crafted a carefully researched policy recommendation during their time in Washington. Today, we highlight the recommendation of Amnoni Myers, 25, a senior at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass.

The Proposal

States receiving IV-B and IV-E foster care funds from the Department of Health and Human Services should be required to follow a federally-established minimum standard for training caregivers on the impact of trauma. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 should be amended to allow for continuation of training services after placement.

The Argument

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that experiencing childhood trauma could decrease a person’s life expectancy by as many as 20 years.

More than 70 percent of foster youths experience at least two forms of complex trauma, but training on trauma for foster parents, adoptive parents and guardians is often scarce or nonexistent.

In Her Own Words

“When I was 12 years old, one foster mother chain-locked the fridge to prevent me from eating. This inhumane treatment was a psychological ‘trigger’ from my past, so it naturally increased my anxiety and led me to feel afraid and worthless.”

The Chronicle’s Take

The CDC report that Myers refers to is the Adverse Childhood Experience Study (ACES). Released a decade ago, the major study is only recently gaining traction in policy circles.

While the role of ACES in removal and placement decision-making could become a hot topic, Myers is right on here: It is a no-brainer that caregivers ought to understand the often toxic stress experienced by many of the children they will care for.

Click here to read Myers’ entire proposal and those of her fellow FYI participants.

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  1. I agree. I’m a foster mom and know first hand that family (kinship) placement often breakdown due to lack of training and full disclosure about the child’s need. Kinship should not only receive trauma training, but be informed about what the child has experienced and understand how often CPS and CASA will be involved.

  2. You have to know I will take this as an opportunity to stand on my soapbox for relative caregivers who are not able to be licensed as formal foster families. In this case there is no mandate to train these families as the formal families are trained. This is a huge disservice to children and the relatives who are struggling to raise them without any knowledge or training in trauma. Just because a child is living with Grandpa and Grandma or Auntie and Uncle does not mean that child did not experience and suffer the same LONG TERM effects of neglect and abuse. There are two major factors that put relative care families at risk-lack of funding and lack of training. How hard can it be to include these families in a trauma informed class? I have approached Department of Huma Services numerous times about this. If you want an opinion piece on this let me know Ill be happy to write it

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