The National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI) raises awareness about the impact of trauma on children and adolescents as a behavioral health concern.

Congress, recognizing the serious mental health impact of traumatic events on children, adolescents, and families, authorized in 2000 the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), as part of the Children’s Health Act. NCTSI’s goal is to transform mental health care for children and adolescents affected by trauma throughout the country by improving the quality of community-based trauma treatment and services and increasing access to effective trauma-focused interventions.

NCTSI develops and implements:

  • Evidence-based interventions to reduce the debilitating mental health impact of traumatic experiences on children and adolescents
  • Collaborations with all systems of care where children and adolescents who have experienced trauma receive services
  • Successful education and training approaches, including training practitioners in trauma-informed and evidence-based treatment and services
  • Data collection and evaluation activities
  • Education and awareness raising with policymakers regarding trauma, resilience, and recovery
  • Product development for professionals, policymakers, families, youth, and the public
  • Partnerships with youth, families, and other consumers

Download the trifold brochure, National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative: Helping Kids Recover and Thrive - 2015 (PDF | 9 MB). This brochure is also available in single-page form (PDF | 944 KB).

A Collaborative Approach

Through this initiative, a collaborative network of experts was created to further the development and dissemination of evidence-based clinical interventions for systems that serve children, adolescents, and families. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is made up of SAMHSA representatives, in cooperation with four distinct groups of grantees and stakeholders:

  • The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS) works to promote leadership and collaboration across NCTSN and serves as a national resource center to disseminate NCTSN program and intervention products.
  • Treatment and Service Adaptation centers identify, develop, support, and improve treatment approaches for different types of trauma that children and adolescents experience.
  • Community Treatment and Services centers provide services to children who have experienced traumatic events by implementing and evaluating the effectiveness of trauma treatment and services in community and service system settings.
  • Affiliate members, made up of more than 160 formerly funded NCTSN members, continue to contribute to the national mission and ongoing work in their states and local communities.

To find a network member site near you, visit NCTSN's member finder.

NCTSN Contributions

Since the program began in 2000, NCTSN has provided trauma treatment and services to hundreds of thousands of children and adolescents, with more than 280 grants awarded to 210 member centers.

For example, funded grant sites during fiscal year 2016 provided evidence-based treatment to more than 47,000 people, including children, adolescents, and their families. During that time, the network provided training in the assessment and treatment of traumatic stress to more than 202,000 people, including mental health professionals, primary care providers and other professionals in child-serving systems, consumers, and the public.

Learn more about SAMHSA’s Efforts to Address Trauma and Violence.

Last Updated: 03/27/2019