The Need to Address Childhood Trauma: Implications for Child Welfare and Education

Honorary Co-Hosts:
Representative Danny K. Davis (IL-7) and the
Congressional Foster Youth Caucus
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
HVC 200, Congressional Visitor’s Center


Organized by: Building Community Resilience, Redstone Center at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice

This briefing will provide an overview of the impact of trauma on the developing brain, effective federal policies for addressing trauma, and strategies to deliver trauma-informed care to children in both child welfare and education.

Speakers will include:

  • Wendy Ellis, Director, Building Community Resilience (BCR) at the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, GWU School of Public Health
  • Kathryn Larin, Director, Education, Workforce, and Income Security Team, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
  • Whitney Gilliard, Former Foster Youth
  • Olga Price, Associate Professor, Director, National Center for Health and Health Care in Schools GWU School of Public Health;
  • Monica Battle, Principal, College Hill Fundamental Academy, Cincinnati Public Schools 

Background: When children experience trauma —including witnessing violence, a parent’s substance abuse, or living in poverty—they can suffer. Decades of research have established the link between a child’s exposure to trauma and its effect on brain development, with long-term health and societal outcomes, such as chronic disease development, mental health disorders, high school graduation, and poverty.  

Children who have been exposed to four or more such traumas – also known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – are twice as likely not to graduate high school, ten times more likely to inject drugs, and twelve times more likely to commit suicide than children who have not been exposed. 

The good news is there are approaches and interventions that can effectively prevent and mitigate the impacts of trauma, particularly through the development of individual, family and community resilience. Schools, health care, social services, child welfare, first responders, juvenile and family courts, and other systems must all have the tools and federal support to recognize trauma and coordinate services to address their effects on children. 

At the briefing you will hear from national experts regarding promising practices in the areas of education and child welfare to assist children in building resilience and overcoming trauma.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Jeff Hild at







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