July | August 2017

Multi-System Trauma-Informed Collaborative Aims To Improve Outcomes for Children Exposed to Violence

Image of frightened young boyThe first step toward mitigating the damage of trauma is identifying and treating youth who are exposed to violence. OJJDP collaborated with American Institutes for Research (AIR) and Chapin Hall for the first annual Multi-System Trauma-Informed Collaborative (MSTIC) convening, which took place on July 26–27, 2017, in Washington, DC.

MSTIC's goal is to develop, coordinate, and enhance policies and practices among state systems that serve youth to improve outcomes for children exposed to violence and trauma. After a rigorous selection process, three teams from Connecticut, Washington, and Illinois were chosen to participate in the initiative.

OJJDP Acting Administrator Eileen M. Garry offered remarks to approximately 50 attendees, who included representatives from state teams and federal agencies, as well as experts from Chapin Hall and AIR. “Our ultimate goal is to support the development of a trauma-informed network in every state for every system that touches the lives of children,” she said.


The collaborative has developed the following objectives to attain that goal:

  • Increase the capacity of state child-serving systems to collaborate effectively and create actionable local plans.
  • Increase knowledge of evidence-based policies, practices, and programs.
  • Enhance the ability of state systems to identify, implement, and monitor impacts of effective trauma-informed practices.
  • Improve the capacity of systems to blend funding streams to sustain implementation of evidence-based practices that are trauma informed.

Participants learned about state and federal resources, such as the Crime Victims Fund, that they can leverage to support their efforts. They also learned about the importance of data collection and evaluation in revealing disparities in available services. One of the meeting highlights was a presentation on culturally responsive community engagement by Public Policy Associates, Inc. “Nothing about us, without us,” became a familiar refrain throughout the convening to illustrate the need to involve youth and families in the planning process.

Taking full advantage of an opportunity for networking, the three state teams eagerly learned from one another and shared lessons learned. Chapin Hall and AIR will follow up with each team to provide rigorous technical assistance to help them implement their plans.

Catherine Pierce, Senior Advisor to the OJJDP Administrator, assessed the meeting as a success. “Overall, the state teams left very committed to doing things differently,” she said.


To learn more about children’s exposure to violence, visit the Changing Minds website and access OJJDP’s National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence bulletin series.

Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence: A Toolkit for Law Enforcement provides practical information and resources to help law enforcement agencies build or enhance their operational responses to children exposed to trauma. Access the OJJDP-supported toolkit online.