The Use of Trauma-Informed Care in Programs Serving Families Experiencing Homelessness


Using a qualitative research design, the purpose of this research was to explore practitioners understanding and utilization of trauma-informed care (TIC) as well as factors that facilitate or deter its’ implementation within transitional housing programs for families experiencing homelessness. Directed content analysis was used with a theoretical framework including trauma theory, the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR), and the Bioecological Systems Theory (BST). Thirtyfive practitioners from 23 programs participated. Participants primarily used the SanctuaryÒ Model of TIC. TIC practices identified were varied, general, and defied rigid proscriptions including mindfulness, motivational interviewing, and other social work practices. Programs faced many barriers related to TIC implementation with outer setting factors strongly influencing a programs ability to implement and sustain TIC. It is not enough for individual programs to practice TIC, TIC must be used in unison across social systems and public policies must be designed to be trauma-informed.


The symptoms of trauma can have a debilitating effect on goal-directed and empowered behaviors that may help to mobilize families experiencing homelessness to access and sustain stable housing. In this chapter, I provide an overview of the problem of family homelessness and the high levels of trauma experienced by these families as well as the impact of trauma on functioning. I then provide a brief review of the literature about the need for trauma-informed care (TIC) within residential programs for families experiencing homelessness. Next, I discuss transitional housing programs for families as an appropriate site for TIC implementation. Finally, I discuss the challenges in implementing TIC, related both to the construct of TIC as well as the program configuration of TH. The purpose of this research was to explore the current state of TIC understanding and utilization by staff within transitional housing programs for families experiencing homelessness as well as barriers and facilitative factors to the implementation of TIC.

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