Session: Integrating Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice into Maternal and Child Health Care and Service Settings (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

101 Integrating Trauma-Informed Social Work Practice into Maternal and Child Health Care and Service Settings

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 6:30 PM-7:30 PM
Cluster: Mental Health
Symposium Organizer:
Samantha Brown, PhD, Colorado State University
Exposure to trauma, both in early childhood and adulthood, heightens risk for a wide range of physical and mental health outcomes across the lifespan. Maternal trauma exposure, in particular, is shown to confer risk for impaired parenting. In fact, maternal and child populations may experience trauma that becomes toxic – that is, traumatic stressors that cause frequent or extended activation of the body’s stress response in the absence of buffering relationships. This response may be further compounded when mothers and children encounter professionals in various child- and family-serving settings, such as child welfare, behavioral health, and reproductive and pediatric health care, who do not engage in trauma-informed care.

Trauma-informed care is an emerging framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the impact of traumatic stress. Applying a trauma-informed lens is especially important when working with marginalized mother-child dyads as they may be disproportionately affected by exposure to traumatic experiences. Accordingly, greater efforts to integrate trauma-informed training into social work practice is needed. Social workers employed in diverse child- and family-service settings should be knowledgeable about trauma-informed care as a broad framework and be able to differentiate it from trauma-specific services. Indeed, the principles that underscore trauma-informed care include: (1) recognizing the impact that trauma has on people, (2) building environments that promote safety, trust, and cultural humility, and (3) empowering people so as to resist re-traumatization.

Social workers are uniquely equipped to meet the needs of mothers and children with identified risk factors. As such, this symposium brings together scholars in the field who will present data on the experiences and outcomes of trauma-exposed mothers and infants involved with diverse child- and family-serving systems. Klawetter and colleagues will present results on the behavioral health needs of mothers with traumatic birth experiences, particularly those involved with a hospital neonatal intensive care unit. Brown and colleagues will present results on the health and well-being outcomes of trauma-exposed mothers and infants involved with the child welfare system and home visiting programs. Everson and colleagues will present results from a rapid cycle evaluation of a case management model embedded in a child maltreatment prevention program to address structural trauma among families. Collectively, findings highlight the multiple manifestations of trauma that influence maternal and child well-being and parenting experiences. Through a complementarity frame, symposium presentations will discuss barriers and solutions to providing trauma-informed care to vulnerable mother-child populations and offer effective ways for social workers to minimize the impacts of trauma to help these families reach their full potential.

* noted as presenting author
Calling Social Workers: Integrating Trauma-Informed Perinatal Mental Health Care in the NICU
Susanne Klawetter, PhD, Portland State University; Nazan Cetin, MSW, Portland State University
Exposure to Childhood Trauma across Two Generations: Effects on Maternal and Child Health Outcomes
Samantha Brown, PhD, Colorado State University; Amy Smith, MS, Colorado State University; Tiffany Koppels, BA, Colorado State University
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