Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) has released a practitioner resource,The effect of trauma on the brain development of children: Evidence-based principles for supporting the recovery of children in care.
This report details current best practices in the field of child protection and provides a practical guide for professionals to provide evidence-informed care for young victims of trauma.
The on-going development of research in trauma interventions is vital to support effective responses for children placed in out-of-home care. Exposure to early adverse experiences – such as ante-natal exposure to alcohol, placement instability, poverty, neglect, and pervasive developmental issues – can form cognitive and emotional disruption; addressing the resultant complex traumas requires a multifaceted approach from caregivers.
Interventions that target the specific needs of children placed in care are guided by several core principles:
- Providing a physically and psychologically safe environment
- supporting children and their caregivers to understand the links between trauma and cognitive difficulties
- development of a positive support network for affected children
- offering all children in care best practice based interventions
- maintenance of coordinated services throughout childhood and adolescence, and
- ensuring separate cognitive difficulties are addressed directly
While there is ample empirical evidence to support the intervention guidelines suggested in the practitioner report, the publication calls for further critical review of how these ideas shape service delivery and how practice responses are sustained long-term into adulthood.
Critical to the assumptions underpinning these best practices is emergent research on brain plasticity during critical growth years and a growing body of research suggesting that targeted therapeutic interventions can reverse the negative effect of toxic stress on hormone regulation and cognitive functioning.