Children in the child welfare system comprise a group characterized by their exposure to trauma via experiences of maltreatment, under circumstances presenting multiple risk factors for traumatic stress. High rates of posttraumatic stress have been observed in this population. However, there is currently no standard for the universal screening of children in child welfare for trauma exposure and traumatic stress. The purpose of this study was to analyze the trauma experiences of a sample of maltreated children and examine whether child welfare workers are effective screeners of traumatic stress symptoms with children from their caseloads. Method: A sample of children (N= 131) with trauma screenings completed by their child welfare workers and clinical measures of traumatic stress symptoms based on self or caregiver report was analyzed. Descriptive and correlational analyses were conducted. Hypotheses were tested with a series of four hierarchical regression models to determine whether workers’ screening information regarding child age, trauma exposure history and symptoms of traumatic stress were predictive of outcomes on the clinical measures completed. Results: Findings from the analyses revealed complex trauma exposure histories and high rates of traumatic stress symptoms among this generally younger sample of maltreated children. Additionally, the models tested supported workers’ efficacy in screening for symptoms of total posttraumatic stress and specific trauma symptoms of intrusion and avoidance. Workers were less effective in screening for the traumatic stress symptoms associated with arousal. Implications: These findings support the importance of identifying the trauma recovery needs of maltreated children and the utility of child protection workers in assisting with the trauma screening process. Implications are provided for associated practices, policies and training efforts regarding the implementation of a trauma screening protocol in child welfare. This would serve as a critical pathway for creating trauma-informed systems that better address the needs of maltreated children and their families.
Numerous times in the past I’ve had to learn new roles in my career that have both challenged me and encouraged me to try harder to excel at what I’ve accepted. At first, it becomes very nervous for me to realize ‘how exciting to have this new challenging job’ only to think in a short time, ‘what am I going to do once they find out I don’t know what I’m doing?’ Over the years, I’ve come to realize new experiences are a challenging reward if approached in the proper manner.
Initially, I thought I could do anything, I was so ‘important’! I applied for jobs that were way beyond my skill and abilities – but I did so with good faith that a willing, quick learner with basic skills could somehow morph into that great leader I aspired to become. After numerous job interviews and following rejections which I did ask for feedback afterwards, what I heard taught me a good lesson that’s never failed me since. The interviewers I met with provided me with the information I already knew; that I was a keen, quick to learn individual with a basic understanding of the roles I was applying for.
However, I lacked any experience demonstrating those skills and abilities and was considered at that point as a liability. They would rather not fill the position than have someone with unproven credibility in the roles I was applying for. So, nice guys don’t finish first after all!
Following this, I began to be much pickier about which jobs I applied for and began with jobs I have a demonstrated track record with that offered quick advancement and learning opportunities in their career development paths. Bingo! Great rewards come to those who plan well!
I was soon employed in a higher position than I’d ever had before, just because they saw me as a keen quick learner with credibility in the prior work I’d done that suited and matched the skills and abilities they were looking for. I’ve never looked back and make it a point to follow my number 1 rule: Don’t apply for jobs I’m not qualified to have (stay easy there EGO) and it’s been great!
I’ve had so many challenging work experiences as well because I’m a self-starter who studies the new job when I begin and create a learning plan to produce the work I’m hired to do but more; I create a plan to excel at what I do and search for areas I can learn and demonstrate higher skills and abilities than the job I’m currently hired in. As a result, I’ve enjoyed promotions and assignments to special projects that have increased my experience and skills to the point I’ve reached my level of performance I’m happy with. There are other higher promotion available to me, some have been offered and suggested, but they take me from the area I have competencies and ability in – bringing me back to my rule number 1, don’t apply for position I’m not qualified for. Happy job hunting!
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”—Dale Carnegie
Time lapse video footage from Edmonton Journal’s Twitter feed of forest fire hitting city limits of Fort McMurray Alberta.
Cars, trucks and buses can be seen on the side of the highway in different places, many of them abandoned due to heavy forest fire smoke entering the engines and causing them to stall with the lack of air supply, or the drivers were so overcome with smoke inhalation they had to leave their vehicles for safety.
Scars are like memories
Sifting through my thoughts
Keeping the clock turning, time moving on.
Linking the moments in each person’s lives
Fusing the identity, the meaning of who I am, who you are.
Scars are like memories
Trying to keep track, of how I got to this, place and time
Of who I am, of how I got to this place in time… scars.
~ David Brady
How the Government of Canada began to institute the forcible separation of Aboriginal people from their land, culture and identity in order to have them adopt European lifestyles was launched with the Residential School system. It is the position of this article that this calculated strategy caused significant cumulative trauma in multiple generations of Aboriginal people.
Prior to those events,the social policy adopted by the Canadian Government in 1876 with the passing of The Indian Act is an example of how the federal government supported the extinguishment of Aboriginal peoples as separate and distinct peoples from the dominant European identity. This shift in federal policies from one of protector of both Aboriginal people and their lands, as set out in the “Royal Proclamation of 1763” (INAC, 1996) resulted from an increased desire to assume ownership of Aboriginal lands in the West to bring settlers, institute private property rights and establish Municipal Governments, (Tobias 1976).
Children raised in a strict, disciplined environment with substandard care and no personal affection has left generations of Aboriginal people without traditional survival skills, ceremonial rituals and little extended family contact. This loss of ceremonial rituals attacks the spiritual core of an Aboriginal person. Without ceremonial mourning rituals they do not have knowledge or access to rituals allowing proper mourning of the substantial grief experienced (Brave Heart, DeBruyn, 1998).
Without the safe expression of grief and bereavement, this unresolved grief is a key concept in understanding the Aboriginal experience in Canada.The suppression of language and ceremony is a clear example of policies of Canada’s government intended to remove Aboriginal’s identity to be replaced with European dominant values and culture. Brave Heart (1999) discussed this trauma as having multiple impacts on individual functioning leading to serious long-term mental and emotional disturbances. Children raised in Residential Schools reported increased stress when parenting their own children, inadequate feelings, and report confusion in how to parent children (Brave Heart, 1999).
Research has shown, (Smith et al. 2005) significant and extreme emotional injury and mental health concerns were caused by forced removal of children from their parental care under the Indian Act, where they were taken to Residential Schools where no traditional relationships continued, nor traditional parenting roles modelled and where negative experiences like physical, sexual and emotional trauma and abuse were perpetrated on children by the institutional staff.
Brave Heart, M.Y.H., & DeBruyn, L. (1998). The American Indian holocaust: Healing historical unresolved grief. American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research: Journal of the National Center, 8(2), 60-82.
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. (1996). Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Retrieved March 7, 2007, from http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/sg/sgmm_e.html
Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart (1999) Oyate Ptayela: Rebuilding the Lakota Nation Through Addressing Historical Trauma Among Lakota Parents, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 2:1-2, 109-126, DOI: 10.1300/J137v02n01_08. To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J137v02n01_08
Tobias, J. L., (1976). Protection, civilization, assimilation: an outline history of Canada’s indian policy. Sweet Promises, A Reader for Indian-White relations in Canada, 127 – 144.
Smith, D., Varcoe, C., & Edwards, N. (2005). Turning around the intergenerational impact of RS on aboriginal people: Implications for health policy and practice. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 37, 4, 38-60.