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18 Recommendations for Implementing Trauma-Informed Approaches in Pediatrics

The vision of the Center for the Urban Child and Healthy Family within the Department of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center is that all children have equal opportunity to be healthy and ready to learn, with the ability to achieve their full potential. The Center’s approach to accomplishing this goal is through a new model of pediatric care for families facing adversity—the Pediatric Practice of the Future—and ultimately, scale this model to sites around the country.

Trauma-informed care approaches are a foundational component of the Pediatric Practice of the Future.

Experiencing traumatic events like child maltreatment, exposure to intimate partner violence or parental substance use is exceptionally common. Research, including the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, highlights the effects of early exposure to trauma on poor physical and mental health outcomes across the life course. In recent years, trauma-informed care has established a framework for how providers and entities across social service sectors can better serve individuals who may have experienced trauma. While national groups like the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have published frameworks for integrating trauma-informed approaches into organizations, to our knowledge, there is a paucity of resources that provide guidance on how pediatric professionals can put these frameworks into action in their day-to-day work.

To fill this gap, the Center convened a group of interdisciplinary thought leaders who have a vested interest in creating trauma-informed spaces across a variety of sectors in Massachusetts. The Center tasked this Trauma-Informed Care Working Group with generating a list of actionable recommendations for pediatric practitioners to be more trauma-informed in their daily practice. The Trauma-Informed Working group developed 18 Recommendations for Integrating Trauma-Informed Approaches into Pediatric Practice. These recommendations can be universally implemented with all patients, regardless of whether the practitioner is aware of a specific trauma history. Additionally, while created for health care, these recommendations could be modified and applied to a variety of other family serving sectors. Based on these recommendations, the Center is planning a Trauma-Informed Care meeting in 2020. Stay tuned!