IFPS, Trauma, and Well-Being


New research on trauma and its potential for precipitating lifelong problems compels IFPS programs to address trauma. Traditional child well-being has focused primarily on safety and permanence. However, trauma is now known to affect psycho-social, emotional, cognitive and even physical development. The research is clear that traumatic stress affects well-being in increasingly predictable ways. Traumatic stress is characterized as different from “normal stress” in that the traumatic events were neither expected nor preventable (by the victim), and the victim was unprepared for them or their aftermath.

The federal government requires agencies to address trauma and well-being in all grant proposals. States are increasingly following that example with grants and contracted funding including the requirement to address trauma and well-being. What do we know about trauma and well-being that informs the field of IFPS?

Let’s look at the results of a recent study of trauma and post-trauma well-being.

Findings of Research Study

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN), in cooperation with Dr. Ray Kirk, designed a study to assess families for trauma. Following services, the families were again assessed for post-trauma well-being. Several IFPS agencies participated in the study. Results? Families made substantial progress following treatment for trauma symptomology. The following charts summarize the findings:

Intake/Pre-Service Assessment

Assessment Results Families
Trauma identified 81%
No trauma identified 19%


Item Families with Mild Problem Rating(-1) Families with Moderate or Serious Problem Ratings(-2, -3)
Traumatic Sexual Abuse of Children 7% 6%
Traumatic Physical Abuse of Children 9% 11%
Traumatic Neglect of Children 23% 21%
Emotional/Psychological Abuse
of Children
27% 21%
Parent/Caregiver Trauma 20% 37%


Closure/Post-Service Assessment

Item Families with Mild Problem Rating(-1) Families with Moderate or Serious Problem Ratings(-2, -3)
Post-Trauma Cognitive/Physical
Well-Being of Children
Post-Trauma Emotional/Psychological Well-Being of Children 8% 4%
Post-Trauma Parent/Caregiver
13% 12%


To read the complete report, visit http://www.nfpn.org/Portals/0/Documents/trauma-report.pdf

What can the field of IFPS glean from this study?

IFPS programs are a valuable resources for families experiencing trauma! Most of the families in the study had indications of trauma. Many of these families received trauma services from the IFPS counselor. And, following services, the families demonstrated substantial improvement in post-trauma well-being. Thus, the study showed that IFPS programs are capable of identifying trauma, providing appropriate services to promote recovery and healing from trauma, and demonstrating that families can indeed recover from traumatic experiences.

Posted by Priscilla Martens, Executive Director, National Family Preservation Network


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