What We Do

As described in our mission, the CCTASI team is committed to providing national expertise on the assessment, training, development and dissemination of resources related to the developmental effects of childhood trauma. Our Center’s projects span across developmental stages, from early childhood through young adulthood, extend into different service systems, including child welfare, juvenile justice, and early education, and focus on supporting frontline, non-clinical providers. By targeting frontline professionals, we are able to support these individuals and systems by providing valuable trauma-informed training, tools, and practices to the professionals who work with youth every day.

Our work would not exist without collaboration with state and national level partners, who include academic researchers, clinical psychologists, resource developers, and youth and families. In collaboration with these partners, we identify needs and gaps related to trauma-focused practices and then develop and implement educational and practice-focused solutions.

Looking for individual therapy services, direct care, or other help for your child? Get help HERE.

Our Primary Projects

Think Trauma Toolkit: Training of Trainers

Developed by the NCTSN professionals, Think Trauma is a modularized, skills-based, interactive trauma-focused training curriculum designed for frontline, residential staff who work directly with youth in detention and long-term residential or correctional facilities. This training includes four modules focused on trauma and delinquency; trauma’s impact on development; coping strategies; and vicarious trauma, organizational stress, and self-care. CCTASI is hosting multiple Training of Trainer opportunities to support the widespread implementation of this training across the nation.

Early Childhood Education: Needs Assessment and Toolkit Development

Our Center has been collaborating with early childhood teachers, counselors, administrators, and paraprofessionals to better understand the needs and gaps for achieving a more trauma-informed early childhood education setting. In collaboration with the Center for Childhood Resiliency at Lurie Children’s Hospital, we are developing an educator’s toolkit to address the identified gaps and barriers in teacher training and support practical skill development in order to improve trauma-informed practices in early education settings.

Meaningful Trauma Screening and Assessment: Curriculum Development

At CCTASI, we believe that the screening and assessment process provides an opportunity to meaningfully engage and collaborate with families and other providers. By screening for trauma experiences, mental health, or behavioral needs, providers can understand how to most effectively intervene and offer the help to families that is needed for healing. Our team is developing a training curriculum to support increased knowledge and skill for providers to successfully implement meaningful trauma screening and assessment across three different service systems: child welfare, juvenile justice, and early education. This curriculum is designed to support the roles of administrative, supervisory/managerial, and direct service providers in each of these service systems.

Transition Age Youth: Needs Assessment and Resource Development

Transition Age Youth (TAY) describe older youth (ages 16-24) involved in child welfare and other child serving systems. These youth face unique challenges as they grow older, sometimes being too old for youth services but too young for adult services. Due to the heightened challenges, obstacles, and particular needs of this age group, our Center is dedicated to identifying and improving supports for TAY. We are doing this by directly asking TAY providers and TAY themselves about their experiences and needs. These insights support the development and adaptation of trauma resources for this population in Illinois and nationally.

CANS-Trauma: Certification and Resources

P.I. and Co-Director for the Center, Cassandra Kisiel, Ph.D. is the primary developer of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Trauma Version (CANS-Trauma). The CANS is an information integration tool that gathers data about the experience of a youth and his/her family. The CANS-Trauma can help provide a better understanding of a child’s strengths and needs to make appropriate service or treatment recommendations. Our Center provides an online certification and resources to support the use of the CANS-Trauma in everyday practice.

Remembering Trauma: Public Awareness Campaign

Our Center developed a two part film series titled Remembering Trauma: Connecting the Dots Between Complex Trauma and Misdiagnosis in Youth. These short films help raise awareness with the general public about the impact of complex trauma and misdiagnosis. In addition to the two films, our Center has developed resources and tools for hosting screenings of the film and sharing the message with others. Click HERE to learn more.

Cultural Equity Committee

Experiences of trauma are often compounded by systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, heterosexism and the like. Identifying and addressing the influence and intersectionality of these systemic experiences is critical for supporting the needs of traumatized youth. It is essential to our mission that we consider the effect of race, culture, ethnicity, and minority status within our work, the resources we develop, and the trainings we provide. For this reason, our team has partnered with a diverse group of highly qualified professionals whom have expertise in areas of culture and diversity in clinical practice to collaborate on our products and resources.

Cross Systems Advisory Board

When developing resources for multiple systems (e.g. child welfare, juvenile justice, and early childhood education) we are committed to understanding the unique challenges and applications of our products in the field. Our team meets quarterly with our Cross Systems Advisory Board that is composed of professionals from each of these systems that provide us with support and advice on current and future projects and their applications in the real world.