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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 19, No. 3
July 2014

Supporting Child Welfare Worker Resiliency

Asking parents about their attachment and trauma histories can be stressful for child welfare professionals. They are likely to hear difficult things, and they may experience vicarious trauma. If agencies are going to take trauma and attachment seriously, it's important to have a plan in place for supporting workers' resiliency and responding sensitively to vicarious trauma. Below are strategies for doing just that.

  • Review recruitment and hiring practices with a focus on building resilience, professional training, and preparedness
  • Provide routine training, education and support to all staff about secondary traumatic stress and how to recognize and manage their reactions
  • Acknowledge that secondary trauma is an occupational hazard; promote open discussion of secondary traumatic stress among staff
  • Use self-assessment measures to evaluate the impact of secondary trauma exposure on child welfare workers
  • Consider agency policies that may exacerbate secondary trauma (e.g., agency response to high-stress events) and how policies can be amended to enhance staff resilience
  • Ensure peer and professional counseling resources are available to staff at all times (not only after a crisis)
  • Provide good mental health coverage and an Employee Assistance Program
  • Cultivate a workplace culture that normalizes (and does not stigmatize) getting help for work-related stress
  • Implement a comprehensive program to address secondary trauma, such as the Resilience Alliance (

Source: National Child Traumatic Stress Network (January 2013). Child welfare trauma training toolkit: Comprehensive guide-3rd Edition.