Trauma-Informed Care in Homeless Service Settings

The prevalence of traumatic stress in the lives of families experiencing homelessness is extraordinarily high. Often these families have experienced on-going trauma in the form of childhood abuse and neglect, family disruption, domestic violence, community violence, involvement with the foster care system, and the trauma associated with the loss of home, safety and sense of security. Ongoing exposure to traumatic stress, particularly exposure from a younger age, can impact all aspects of people's lives, including physiological, emotional, and cognitive functioning; social interactions/relationships; and identity formation.

In response to the high rates of traumatic stress among families who are homeless, the homelessness service system is moving towards a new way of providing care. Trauma survivors have unique service needs requiring providers to tailor their approaches. Becoming "trauma-informed" involves using knowledge of trauma and recovery to design and deliver services. Trauma-informed care is defined as a "strengths-based framework that is grounded in an understanding of and responsiveness to the impact of trauma, that emphasizes physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both providers and survivors, and that creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment" (Hopper et al., 2010). Becoming trauma-informed requires a commitment to changing the practices, policies, and culture of an entire organization.

Training and Consultation:
The National Center supports organizations across the country to adopt a trauma-informed approach. The National Center provides training on trauma and trauma-informed care and on-going consultation to support organizations to incorporate trauma-informed practices. Learn more about our web-based and in-person training offerings.

Trauma-Informed Resources:
The National Center has created a variety of tools and resources to support organization to become trauma-informed. Our Trauma-Informed Organizational Toolkit provides programs with a roadmap for becoming trauma-informed and offers concrete guidelines to ensure that organizations are responding appropriately to the needs of families who have experienced traumatic stress. To meet the needs of women veterans and their children, we have developed Trauma-Informed Care for Women Veterans Experiencing Homelessness: A Guide for Service Providers. See our resources page for additional information about these tools, as well as other resources on trauma-informed care.

For more information

If you are interested in working with us to bring training to your community, contact Kathleen Guarino, Director of Training, at or 781-373-7066.