Considerations for Trauma-Informed Child Care and Early Education Systems

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodMar 7 2023

Trauma can affect everyone in a CCEE system—young children, their families, and CCEE providers.1,2 A growing body of evidence shows that young children are particularly vulnerable to events that threaten their safety or the safety of their parents and caregivers.3 Because young children may respond differently to traumatic experiences than older children and may be unable to talk directly about their experiences, the potential effects of trauma on young children can be overlooked. Young children affected by trauma may have challenges regulating their behavior and emotions and may rely heavily on families and other adults, including their CCEE providers, for co-regulation of emotions and a sense of safety. Parents, caregivers, and CCEE providers may be affected by caring for young children experiencing traumatic stress or may experience their own trauma, which can affect their capacity to support young children in CCEE. Parents and caregivers may similarly be affected into adulthood by unresolved trauma from their own childhood, which can affect their engagement in CCEE and the parent-child relationship.4

The good news is that most children, with support from caring adults in their lives, can heal from traumatic events without requiring intensive interventions. This highlight provides an overview of research on early childhood trauma and its relevance to CCEE. The highlight also offers evidence-informed strategies and best practices for CCEE leaders to consider when implementing trauma-informed approaches to support young children, parents/caregivers, and CCEE providers.

This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.


1 Review of trauma-informed initiatives at the systems level (James Bell Associates):

2 Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education (Child Trends):;

3 Early childhood trauma (National Child Trauma Stress Network):

4 Klest, B., Tamaian, A., & Boughner, E. (2019). A model exploring the relationship between betrayal trauma and health: The roles of mental health, attachment, trust in healthcare systems, and nonadherence to treatment. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 11(6), 656.