Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities


Wisconsin Trauma Project

The Wisconsin Trauma Project is designed to respond to the needs of children, families and their communities. Since 2012, forty-three counties and three tribes have participated in one or more components of the project. The project map and accompanying list of project sites show in which component(s) each site has participated.

The project has three components:

  1. Training for caregivers in Trauma-informed Parenting Workshop
  2. Training for mental health clinicians in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), a trauma treatment for children ages 3-18
  3. Training and technical assistance in Trauma-informed County/Tribal Organizational Systems Change

Counties and tribes can apply for one, two or all three components. Each component will strengthen local child-serving systems. It is especially powerful when all three are taken on at the same time.

Why Trauma?

Child trauma can be hard to identify and understand. The symptoms can look like so many other physical and mental health issues.

For children in the child welfare system, untreated trauma can mean living out of the home longer It may also result in more changes in foster or family placements.

A child who has experienced a trauma may develop behaviors making it hard to form positive relationships with others. He or she may also continue the cycle of violence and abuse.

When the "root cause" of the issue is not recognized and treated, families and workers can feel worn out.

Fortunately, trauma-informed caregiving and treatment can help children recover from their difficult childhood experiences. It helps them learn new ways of thinking about themselves and the world around them.

"I just wanted to take the time to say thank you for inviting me to the training. It was amazing...I want to tell you that we now understand for the boys' sake how important it is that we all take part in raising them. They need their biological parents and so we need to do our best to keep them connected, even if that means effort on our part. The boys will need to see that everyone can work together to be healthy so that the boys can grow up as healthy as possible and know that many people can love them all at the same time. And that they can love lots of people all at the same time too...
You have been a part of making this family better in all its parts because you believe in us and continued to give us resources and the chance to continue learning so we could be better foster parents to these kiddos."
-Foster Parent

Trauma-informed Parenting Workshop

Through activities and videos caregivers learn how to recognize trauma reminders. They also learn how to adjust their caregiving to best support and protect children.

Agency social workers are encouraged to attend the workshop as part of a care team.

Workers are also invited to attend as potential trainers. Individuals interested in becoming trainers must take part in all three workshops.

The Trauma-informed Parenting Training content is based on the 16-hour curriculum from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN).

To find a training in your area, contact: DCFWisconsinTraumaProject@wisconsin.gov

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) Training

The Trauma Project provides training in TF-CBT to master’s-level and PhD-level therapists that treat children in the child welfare system.

The TF-CBT Learning Collaborative is a 12-month training including:

  1. 5 in-person training days lead by a TF-CBT national trainer
  2. Consultation calls with a national trainer
  3. Continuing education resources- 2 child trauma webinars and TF-CBT implementation book

Agencies participate in clinical teams comprised of at least one supervisor and a group of clinicians. Supervisors take part in their own track of consultation calls to develop TF-CBT supervisory skills.

Each participant submits monthly data to track clinical and child welfare outcomes.

Clinicians who complete the learning collaborative are eligible for certification as a TF-CBT therapist. Therapists certified in TF-CBT are listed on https://tfcbt.org/.

For additional questions, please consult our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Child Welfare Organizational/Systems Change Training and Technical Support

DCF is collaborating with Fostering Futures on the third component: adopting trauma-informed practices at the organizational and systems levels.

Fostering Futures, in partnership with the National Council on Behavioral Health (NCBH), is offering training and technical assistance to state and county child welfare agencies on implementing trauma-informed principles in their organization.

The three focus areas are:

  1. Developing a trauma-informed, educated and responsive workforce
  2. Creating safe and secure environments
  3. Ongoing performance improvement and evaluation

2016-2018 Trauma Project Expansion

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) began a statewide expansion of the Wisconsin Trauma Project in 2016 that will continue through 2018. The expansion will include:

An 18-month learning collaborative for clinicians in Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) coordinated by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Psychiatry. CPP is an evidence-based treatment for children from birth to age 5 who have experienced trauma.

Support for Milwaukee County’s Healthy Infant Court – a court focused on connecting babies and their families with additional supports and services, including infant mental health specialists.

Trauma Project Annual Reports

The Wisconsin Trauma Project Annual Report and Updates highlight the accomplishments of participating counties, tribes, clinicians and families.  The updates also provide information on trauma-related initiatives throughout the state.