For Child Welfare Workers and Other Professionals Working in the Child Welfare System
Resources and links to websites regarding secondary trauma that professionals may experience when working with families affected by trauma.
Also called secondary traumatic stress or vicarious trauma, secondary trauma can occur when a professional experiences stress or symptoms of trauma when working with traumatized children and families. The following resources address the challenges professionals face in these situations and ways to cope with secondary trauma.
Compassion Fatigue: Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, Burnout, Vicarious Trauma (PDF - 526 KB)
National Resource Center for Adoption
In Adoption Competency Curriculum: Trainer's Guide
Includes trainer preparation materials for a module that teaches participants to identify causes and symptoms of compassion fatigue, techniques for self-care, and tips for surviving compassion fatigue. Also available: Participant's Handbook (PDF - 636 KB)
Addressing Secondary Traumatic Stress Among Child Welfare Staff: A Practice Brief (PDF - 148 KB)
ACS-NYU Children's Trauma Institute (2012)
Addresses occupational stress experienced by staff responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect and making decisions regarding child removal.
The Cost of Caring: Secondary Traumatic Stress and the Impact of Working With High-Risk Children and Families
Online training course designed to present an overview of secondary traumatic stress and teach child welfare workers approaches and strategies to decrease risk for developing trauma-related symptoms.
CW360°: A Comprehensive Look at a Prevalent Child Welfare Issue: Secondary Trauma and the Child Welfare Workforce (PDF - 2,386 KB)
University of Minnesota School of Social Work & Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare (2012)
Discusses several issues related to secondary trauma and worker performance, provides information on best practices to address this issue, and offers perspectives and collaborations including references and resources.
Does Job Resource Loss Reduce Burnout and Job Exit for Professionally Trained Social Workers in Child Welfare?
Smith & Clark
Children and Youth Services Review, 33(10), 2011
Examines the applicability of conservation of resources theory, which argues that a loss of resources leads to the stress underlying burnout. The article examines the loss of two resources: (a) the loss of a member of the entering cohort of workers and (b) the change in the co–ethnic population of the community in which the social worker practices.
Kansas Workforce Initiative Evidence Review: Secondary Traumatic Stress (PDF - 241 KB)
Kansas Workforce Initiative (2010)
Reports research findings on secondary traumatic stress in child welfare and social work and discusses practice implications.
Managing Stress as a Child Welfare Caseworker: Caseworker Readiness Activity (PDF - 502 KB)
Institute for Human Services & Ohio Child Welfare Training Program (2010)
Identifies and discusses factors that may cause and increase stress for caseworkers.
Planning for Emotional Labor and Secondary Traumatic Stress in Child Welfare Organizations (PDF - 250 KB)
Caringi, Lawson & Devlin (2012)
Journal of Family Strengths, Special Issue: Centennial of the Children's Bureau, 12(1)
Provides an emergent framework that emphasizes early detection and quick response for secondary traumatic stress. Recommendations and guidelines to improve response and intervention are shared.
Promoting Resilience and Reducing Secondary Trauma Among Child Welfare Staff (PDF - 1116 KB)
ACS-NYU Children's Trauma Institute
Describes a project to mitigate the impact of secondary traumatic stress among child protective staff in New
York City, and thereby increase staff job satisfaction, resilience, optimism, self-care and social support, and decrease staff attrition, stress reactivity and burnout.
Recognizing Burnout and Practicing Self-Care Resources
Offers Tribal and non-Tribal social workers links to resources on preventing and addressing burnout, well-being and self-care, and coping strategies.
Secondary Traumatic Stress: A Fact Sheet for Child-Serving Professionals (PDF - 724 KB)
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2011)
Outlines options for assessment, prevention, and interventions relevant to secondary stress, and describe the elements necessary for transforming child-serving organizations and agencies into systems that also support worker resiliency.
Secondary Traumatic Stress and Burnout in Child Welfare Workers: A Comparative Analysis of Occupation Distress Across Professional Groups
Sprang, Craig, & Clark
Child Welfare, 90(6), 2011
Proposes strategies for enhancing self-care for child welfare workers and describes the essential elements of a trauma-informed child welfare agency that addresses secondary traumatic stress and burnout.
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Among Child Welfare Workers Who Experience a Maltreatment Fatality on Their Caseload (PDF - 468 KB)
Douglas & Serino (2012)
Presents a factsheet that documents findings from a study whose purpose was to assess the knowledge, attitudes, practice concerns, and experiences with maltreatment fatalities as well as implications for post-traumatic stress symptoms among U.S. child welfare professionals.
Working with Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse: Secondary Trauma and Vicarious Traumatization
Many & Osofsky (2011)
In Handbook of Child Sexual Abuse: Identification, Assessment, and Treatment
Discusses and explores secondary traumatic stress, vicarious traumatization, countertransference, and burnout of helpers and evaluators of survivors of child sexual abuse.