Trauma-informed practice and its impact on youth violence
Co-funded with the Home Office
Applications are now closed.
The Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) is a charity with a mission that matters. We’re here to prevent children and young people becoming involved in violence. We do this by finding out what works and building a movement to put this knowledge into practice.
In September 2022 we launched a new targeted project, co-funded with the Home Office, Trauma-informed practice and its impact on youth violence, to find out what difference trauma-informed practice has on keeping children safe from violence. We’re particularly interested in trauma-informed practice delivered in youth justice, education or children’s social care services in England and Wales.
The harmful effects of childhood exposure to traumatic events has been demonstrated consistently and across many different areas of a young person’s life, including health, education, employment, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
Increasing awareness and understanding of the impact of trauma, how to recognise its signs and symptoms and how to work sensitively with young people to avoid re-traumatisation, has become an increasingly popular approach across lots of services related to violence prevention.
However, as the ‘trauma-informed training and service redesign’ strand of the YEF Toolkit highlights, , there’s currently insufficient evidence to know whether these approaches have an impact on crime and violence.
With co-funding from the Home Office we’re aiming to fund up to four projects, which are all currently in the co-design stage of our application process.
Each of these projects will be robustly evaluated through randomised control trials so that we can begin to fill the evidence gap around trauma-informed practice.
The overarching research question for this funding round is: How effective is the implementation of trauma-informed practice in preventing young people from becoming involved in violence?
Based on the common components of trauma-informed practice that existing literature has identified, we’re interested to fund and evaluate programmes that deliver activities across the following areas:
We’re interested in understanding the impact of these programmes on the short and medium-term outcomes for both practitioners and young people.
For practitioners these may include knowledge and awareness of the impact of trauma and practitioner wellbeing.
For young people these are likely to include outcomes related to involvement in violence and crime such as meaningful relationships, behavioural difficulties, and school engagement. And ultimately, we are interested in longer-term outcomes around offending behaviours for these young people.
We’re currently working with the following organisations in the co-design phase of our application process. This means projects have been shortlisted from our open application and paired with an independent evaluator to design a large-scale impact evaluation.
Funding will only be awarded once the project’s delivery and evaluation proposal has been approved by the YEF’s governing Committee (expected Summer 2023).
This project seeks to embed a whole-school approach to trauma-informed practice in secondary schools. Staff will be trained and supported to have a better understanding of trauma and attachment needs, including their own. The aim is to ensure that students with adverse childhood experiences feel safe at school and have positive relationships with at least one identified staff member.
Additionally, the project will support senior leadership teams to develop a supportive, relationship-driven school culture and adjust school policies and procedures to promote a trauma-informed approach to managing behaviour. The objective is to improve the emotional well-being of young people affected by trauma, enhance their connection and involvement in school, establish meaningful relationships with trusted adults and reduce behavioural difficulties.
Fostering Connections offers training and support to help social work teams, working with young people in foster care, and their foster carers understand and use trauma-informed practices.
Supervising social workers (who assist foster carers) and social workers (who work directly with young people in foster care) will receive joint training for five months. They will also have ongoing access to a peer support network. The training aims to enhance their knowledge and understanding of trauma and its impacts while also promoting consistent use of trauma-informed approaches and collaboration between these two roles.
The programme seeks to improve the stability of foster care placements, support young people in foster care to form meaningful relationships with trusted adults, improve their mental health and reduce behavioural difficulties and their likelihood of becoming involved in violence.
This project will train practitioners working across youth justice, edge of care, youth development and early help services in a psychology-led approach called ‘Enhanced Case Management’.
Staff from across the four services will receive training and support to apply the Trauma Recovery Model framework with the young people they are working with. This involves bringing together practitioners from across multiple services to understand young people’s trauma histories, needs, strengths and protective factors. And from this, draw up a tailored support plan that responds to their needs. As the plan is put into action, practitioners will regularly review the young person’s progress through the stages of the Trauma Recovery Model and adjust their plans accordingly. Through utilising this model, the project aims to meet young people’s needs, improve their wellbeing, and reduce behavioural difficulties, and offending behaviours.
This project seeks to use a whole-school approach to trauma-informed practice, as well as provide targeted support to individual students in secondary schools.
All staff will receive training on trauma and trauma-informed practice. Senior leadership teams will be provided with training and consultancy support to develop a safe, inclusive and mentally healthy school culture. Selected staff will also receive intensive Diploma-level training to become practitioners who can act as trauma-informed champions within the school, providing support to other staff members and leading interventions with individual students who are in need of direct trauma-informed support.
Through this range of support, the project aims to strengthen the connection and engagement of students with the school. And help young people affected by trauma build trusted adult relationships, make sense of painful life experiences and reduce behavioural difficulties.