29 August 2018

The effect of trauma on the brain development of children: Evidence-based principles for supporting the recovery of children in care

This paper examines the evidence on how to support children in care to recover from the effect of trauma. Children in care experience symptoms and difficulties associated with complex trauma, however these may also be related to a number of other early life adversities such as ante-natal exposure to alcohol, placement instability, poverty, neglect, and pervasive developmental issues. While interventions often focus on trauma-informed interventions to improve cognitive functioning, there has been very little evidence linking trauma and cognitive development, or in identifying the interventions that are effective in helping affected children. Interventions that target complex trauma are necessary, but may not be sufficient to meet the developmental needs of children in care. Evidence does show that providing safe environments; supporting children and caregivers to understand the links between traumatic experiences and cognitive difficulties; developing and supporting positive relationships in children's lives; offering all children in care targeted trauma-specific interventions which are maintained  throughout childhood and adolescence; and ensuring separate cognitive difficulties are addressed directly are important in supporting traumatised children.