Helping agencies implement trauma-informed care and trauma-specific services for parents, children, and families affected by substance use and mental disorders

Children and Family Futures (CFF) offers training and technical assistance to help tribes, states, counties, courts, and community-based agencies implement evidence-based trauma-specific services and trauma-informed care for children, parents and their families who are affected by substance use and mental disorders. Our trauma walk-through assessments assist agencies to measure how trauma-informed they are by identifying potential trauma triggers within their environments and programs and implementing strategies to mitigate them.  

Many parents with substance use disorders and who are involved with child welfare services have their own history of childhood abuse and neglect or traumatic experiences. Experiencing parental substance use disorders and involvement with child welfare services may also constitute trauma in children. These parents and children need a system of care that recognizes the effect of trauma on their recovery and well-being. Providers must screen parents and children for trauma using validated screening tools, ensure referral for clinical assessment when warranted, and link to appropriate trauma-specific services. Evidence-based trauma services should be provided within the context of an organizational culture that avoids triggering or unintentional re-traumatization for both parents and children. Being a trauma-informed organization means that every part of the organization—from management to service delivery—understands how trauma affects the life of an individual seeking services.1 Trauma-informed care must be weaved through each service system, including child welfare services, substance use disorder treatment, courts, healthcare, and other community-based agencies.


CFF has disseminated nearly 4,000 materials related to trauma-informed care since 2016
CFF has responded to over 230 technical assistance requests about trauma-informed care since 2016


60% of adults have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience as a child2
10x more likely to have illicit drug use problems among adults with five or more adverse childhood experiences compared to adults without adverse childhood experiences3
0 million
9.2 million adults in the United States had co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders in 20184


Through federally- and foundation-funded projects, Children and Family Futures and its small business subsidiary, Center for Children and Family Futures, produces publications, reports, Technical Assistance tools and web-based learning for the field. The following are featured resources from our work. For more resources or information related to a specific topic, please visit our resources page or click the “Request Assistance” button below or at the top of the page.

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Concept of trauma and guidance for a trauma-informed approach.
  2. Merrick, M. T., Ford, D. C., Ports, K. A., & Guinn, A. S. (2018). Prevalence of adverse childhood experiences from the 2011-2014 behavioral risk factor surveillance system in 23 states. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(11), 1038-1044.
  3. Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., Koss, M. P., & Marks, J. S. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 14, 245-258.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. PEP19-5068, NSDUH Series H-54). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from