Identifying Trauma-Related and Mental Health Needs: The Implementation of Screening in California’s Child Welfare Systems

Brent R. Crandal, Andrea L. Hazen, Jennifer Rolls Reutz


A central aspect of trauma-informed care in child welfare (CW) systems is the use of a trauma-informed screening process. This includes the use of a broadly administered measurement approach to assist professionals in identifying current trauma-related symptomology or a history of potentially traumatizing events. With a high prevalence of unmet mental health needs among CW-involved children, screening can be a crucial step as systems strive to identify children impacted by trauma. This paper offers a summary of CW screening approaches in county-administered CW systems across California. Through a web-administered survey, 46 county administrators reported on their screening practices and perceptions. Information about ages of children screened and screening tools used, perceptions of screening implementation priorities, degree of implementation and satisfaction with screening processes is provided. Several implementation considerations for future trauma-informed care efforts are offered including maintaining a focus on childhood trauma, closing the science-practice gap, and evaluating the state of the science.


Childhood trauma; trauma-informed care; screening; implementation; child welfare

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