Over the last two decades, advances in science have helped us better understand the devastating impact of trauma on young children. Using neuro-imaging technology, PET scans and MRIs, scientists have been able to pinpoint the damaging effects that severe abuse, neglect, witnessing violence, and unremitting exposure to stress have on early childhood brain development. Coupled with this research is the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) (Felitti, et al., 1998) which reviewed the health of more than 17,000 mid-life adults and confirmed that early exposure to negative childhood experiences of abuse, neglect and witnessing violence leads to lifelong, debilitating mental and physical health problems, and ultimately, early mortality.
Although significant progress has been made in what we know about the impact of trauma on early childhood development, there remains, as pediatrician Jack Shonkoff (National Research Council and Institute of medicine, 2000) has said, a substantial gap between what we know and what we do. Closing this gap requires a workforce that is knowledgeable about trauma and its impact on development and can employ skills and strategies that prevent, reduce and ameliorate its effect on young children.
Toward this goal, Multiplying Connections (MC), a Philadelphia-based collaborative designed to build capacity for trauma informed children’s services, has developed a set of core competencies for trauma informed and developmentally appropriate care for all organizations and individuals who provide services to young children and their families.
The competencies created by Multiplying Connections provide a framework for the critical knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills needed to provide trauma informed care to young children and their families. These competencies are intended to guide workforce development activities including training, curriculum development, and professional standards. The intent of these competencies is that the children’s services system workforce shares a common base of knowledge, attitudes and values about trauma and trauma informed care, and is competent in a variety of skills that result in trauma informed and developmentally appropriate practice for all children and families. It is not intended, or even desired, that an individual be competent in all the Multiplying Connections competencies. It is, expected that organizations and systems will be strive to be comprised of individuals that together represent all of the competencies.