Expanding Trauma-Informed Care

MSTIC initiative aims to improve outcomes for children exposed to violence

Every year, millions of children are exposed to violence in their homes, schools and communities. Children who have experienced such trauma are at increased risk for continued victimization, mental health and substance use concerns, suspensions from school, and involvement in the criminal justice system. Trauma can also lead to long-term medical problems.

All of this results in considerable costs—to the children, their families, and to the community. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice embarked on an effort to foster enhanced collaboration between child-serving public agencies to identify and support children who have witnessed or experienced violence. The Multi-System Trauma Informed Collaborative (MSTIC), originally called the Defending Children Initiative, has four key objectives.

  • To increase capacity of state child-serving systems to collaborate effectively to identify, screen, assess, and treat youth exposed to violence
  • To apply culturally competent, family-focused approaches, increase knowledge of evidence-based policies, practices, and programs to improve service provision
  • To enhance the ability of state systems to identify, implement, and monitor impacts of effective trauma-informed strategies to improve outcomes
  • To improve the capacity of systems to blend funding streams to sustain implementation of evidence-based, trauma-informed practices

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) chose Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) to provide training and technical assistance to state-level leaders of child-serving agencies from Illinois, Connecticut, and Washington.

Working closely with senior administrators representing juvenile justice, child welfare, education, early childhood, public health, and mental health public agencies, as well as other stakeholders, Chapin Hall’s experts are supporting the three states through a comprehensive and coordinated planning process to develop actionable, statewide strategic plans that are evidence-based to better serve children who have witnessed or experienced violence. Through training and technical assistance expertise, state leaders are improving policies and practices to screen and assess, and treat as well as maximize opportunities to leverage state and federal funds.

Dr. Jennifer Axelrod leverages her expertise with childhood trauma and organization change within public systems to lead this work for Chapin Hall. Senior Policy Analyst Jason Brennen, who has extensive experience in guiding multi-system collaborations designed to serve crossover populations, manages this project. Dr. Dana Weiner, an expert in child trauma and the use of predictive analytics in large child welfare systems, provides subject matter expertise to this project.

For more information about this project, and Chapin Hall’s capacity to support trauma-informed practices, please contact Jason Brennen.