Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 399–409 | Cite as

Screening for Trauma Symptoms in Child Welfare-Involved Young Children: Findings from a Statewide Trauma-Informed Care Initiative

  • Jenifer Goldman FraserEmail author
  • Carmen Rosa Noroña
  • Jessica Dym Bartlett
  • Jie Zhang
  • Joseph Spinazzola
  • Jessica L. Griffin
  • Crystaltina Montagna
  • Marybeth Todd
  • Ruth Bodian
  • Beth Barto
Exploratory study


Young children who experience abuse, neglect, domestic violence, and other interpersonal forms of trauma are at risk for developing complex psychological trauma. Timely referrals by child welfare services for trauma evaluation and intervention is critical, particularly during the developmentally-sensitive period of birth to three. However, few screening instruments exist that are feasible for implementation in child welfare services and none have reported psychometric data for children under three. The aim of this exploratory, retrospective study was to examine developmental differences in detection rates of two brief trauma screening scales, comparing outcomes for toddlers (age 1 and 2 years) and preschoolers (age 3 to 6 years), using the evaluation data from a statewide child welfare demonstration project. The sample included 151 children ages 1 to 6 participating in evidence-based trauma treatment with their caregivers. More than 80% of children, regardless of age group, met the cut-off on one of the screeners; children who met the cut-off on either screener were significantly more likely to have experienced domestic violence, physical abuse or poly-victimization. Implications for future research are discussed.


Children Clinical issues Developmental issues Measurement Trauma 



The authors wish to acknowledge Dr. Carolyn Schwartz and DeltaQuest Foundation, Inc. for statistical and conceptual support.


The study was supported by a grant from the Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau (Grant No. 90C01057) to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts to report.

Ethical Standards and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation [institutional and national] and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jenifer Goldman Fraser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carmen Rosa Noroña
    • 2
  • Jessica Dym Bartlett
    • 3
  • Jie Zhang
    • 4
  • Joseph Spinazzola
    • 5
  • Jessica L. Griffin
    • 6
  • Crystaltina Montagna
    • 6
  • Marybeth Todd
    • 3
    • 6
  • Ruth Bodian
    • 7
  • Beth Barto
    • 8
  1. 1.ZERO TO THREEWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Child Witness to Violence ProjectBoston Medical CenterBostonUSA
  3. 3.Child TrendsWalthamUSA
  4. 4.DeltaQuest FoundationConcordUSA
  5. 5.Foundation TrustMelroseUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  7. 7.Massachusetts Department of Children and FamiliesCambridge Family and Children’s ServiceCambridgeUSA
  8. 8.LUK, Inc.FitchburgUSA

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