Engagement, Assessment, and Treatment of Young Children who Have Experienced Trauma


Social Work Practice, Clinical Interventions, and Evidence-based models

Name and Qualifications of the Presenter:

Tonia M. Spence, LCSW, MSEd, believes in the power of healthy relationships in shaping young children’s lives. She is a clinician, educator, presenter and advocate who has served children and families for 15+ years. As a new clinician, Tonia’s passion to learn led her to a Fellowship program at Yale’s Child Development Center Outpatient Clinic in New Haven, where she was able to strengthen her clinical understanding of young children. Being in New Haven, where the dichotomy of wealth and poverty were so evident, Tonia began to develop an understanding that without the lens of race, class and privilege she could never truly serve children and families well. She began to recognize how racial tension and stress added an additional layer to the trauma of those she was serving.

Tonia is a leader in the field of zero to three. She has worked tirelessly to integrate her knowledge as a social worker and educator into an interdisciplinary approach to teaching clinicians, educators and students how to assess, diagnose and treat young children experiencing trauma through the lens of racial stress. She is passionate about supporting families through challenges and firmly believes that engagement is the foundation of social work.

Tonia holds a Masters in Special Education from Bank Street College of Education and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia School of Social Work. She is currently the Director of The Virginia and Leonard Marx Outpatient Clinic in Harlem for the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services (JBFCS). Her work at JBFCS expands to her role as the co-leader of the Administrators of Color, where she works with colleagues to impact staff racial literacy.

Description of Course:

Session amounts may vary based on the individual needs of the organization.

For individuals, please contact us for more information.

This unit will provide a framework for working with young children who have experienced trauma and their families. Topics include understanding the special developmental needs of traumatized children, identifying and assessing different types of childhood trauma, and will offer an overview of evidenced based trauma treatment and interventions for children and adolescents. It will address family engagement, integrating elements of different approaches in community mental health settings of color, as well as discuss appropriate referrals for consultation and provision of culturally sensitive services.

Teaching Methods:

The course is geared to adult learners and will use verbal, written and PowerPoint presentations by the instructor; interactive large group discussion of concepts and of participants’ practice; small group discussions clinical experiences with instructor facilitated feedback, and responses to material presented. Reading materials and handouts of resources and tools will be presented.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will learn how to assess the mental status of a young child and use that assessment to diagnosis and treat young children who have experienced trauma.
  • Participants will understand how developmental stages are affected by trauma.
  • Participants will understand the prevalence of trauma, the impact of that trauma, and how a more trauma-informed approach will enhance work and outcomes with clients.
  • Participants will be able to identify and name three Evidenced-Based Treatments (EBT) for children.
  • Participants will have an understanding of how EBTs inform practice and reduce symptomology.
  • Participants will be able to understand how to assess the extent to which current service approaches in their agency or program are trauma-informed.