Supports and Treatments Can Stymie Effects of Trauma for Infants and Toddlers

Oct 27, 2011

By Stephanie Schmit

For people of any age, abuse and neglect can cause great trauma, but this is especially relevant for young children under age 3 who have the highest rates of child abuse and neglect. Trauma can result for a host of reasons, including abuse or neglect, death of a parent, military deployment, or parental depression. Childhood trauma affects early brain development and cause long-term problems with children's physical health and social development, points highlighted at a recent Congressional Baby Caucus briefing. Because early childhood development sets a course for success in school and well-being later in life as an adult, it's critical to focus on policies that protect and help the youngest, most vulnerable children.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network  is at the forefront of developing and disseminating evidence-based treatments that focus on children of all age groups experiencing all different types of trauma. There are many successful preventative programs that help children cope with trauma  and reduce the risk of family dysfunction, including home visiting programs that link families to community resources and Early Head Start programs that provide quality early childhood education for children and comprehensive services for their families. By providing more children with access to higher quality child care, where children are cared for by qualified child care providers with appropriate linkages to comprehensive services and family supports, we may be able to prevent instances of childhood trauma from happening in the first place.

Very young children's development is shaped by the capacity of their families and other caregivers to address the full range of early childhood development. Providing increased funding, quality, and access to preventative programs and integrating these effective treatments into policies can help protect the well-being of the most vulnerable infants and toddlers.  

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