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Maternal and Child HealthMental Health and Well-Being

Congress Points to Local Communities Adopting Trauma Informed Approaches

September 27, 2018


Recently passed resolutions in the House and Senate recognize the importance, effectiveness and need for trauma-informed care. The resolutions cite examples of trauma informed practices, programs and policies implemented, many from local communities with some involving a legal component.

Early in 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed U.S. House Resolution 443 to recognize the importance, effectiveness and need for trauma-informed care in the existing programs of federal agencies, as well as to encourage federal agencies to adopt a trauma-informed approach to their work. The resolution states that a trauma-informed approach is “a principle-based, culture-change process aimed at recognizing strengths and resiliency as well as helping people who have experienced trauma to overcome those issues in order to lead healthy and positive lives.” The trauma addressed may be a natural disaster, adverse childhood experiences, violence, poverty or toxic stress. A similar resolution, Senate Resolution 346, passed several months later in the Senate. Both are “simple resolutions” intended to express broad support and inspire others to act, but they stop short of requiring or prohibiting specific actions.

The resolutions acknowledge the role of federal agencies, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in providing financial support and other resources to support implementation of trauma-informed practices, and also cite examples from the state, tribal, and local levels. The examples in the resolutions are by no means an exhaustive list of trauma-informed practices, programs and policies implemented at every level of government, but the preponderance of examples cited are from local communities.

In view of the support garnered in Congress across the political spectrum and the varied examples cited, incorporating an evidence-based understanding of the impact of adverse childhood experiences and trauma into law and policy at every level of government is a timely and adaptable strategy to increase resilience and enhance community health.

This post by Jill Krueger, J.D., director of the Network for Public Health Law—Northern Region.

Support for the Network is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, RWJF.

The Network for Public Health Law provides information and technical assistance on issues related to public health. The legal information and assistance provided in this document do not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.