Addressing the impact of trauma before diagnosing mental illness in child welfare

Gene Griffin, Gary McClelland, Mark Holzberg, Bradley Stolbach, Nicole Maj, Cassandra Kisiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Congress set requirements for child welfare agencies to respond to emotional trauma associated with child maltreatment and removal. In meeting these requirements, agencies should develop policies that address child trauma. To assist in policy development, this study analyzes more than 14, 000 clinical assessments from child welfare in Illinois. Based on the analysis, the study recommends child welfare agencies adopt policies requiring that (1) mental health screenings and assessments of all youth in child welfare include measures of traumatic events and trauma-related symptoms; (2) evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment begin when a youth in child welfare demonstrates a trauma-related symptom; and (3) a clinician not diagnose a youth in child welfare with a mental illness without first addressing the impact of trauma. The study also raises the issue of treatment reimbursement based on diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-89
Number of pages21
JournalChild Welfare
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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